When you mention the name of your project, do your colleagues sigh as if they are sorry for you? Do resources try to do anything but get assigned to work with you? As a project leader, you should be alert to these signs that your project’s reputation is suffering.
Don’t fear: you can do something to improve your project’s reputation. Here are five tips for boosting people’s opinion of your project.
1. Refocus on benefits delivery
Think about what you are working on. It’s easy to get so sucked in to the detail that you lose focus on why you are doing this project. People appreciate your efforts more when they understand why you are doing what you are doing.
Replan your project to make sure that you are focusing on delivering benefits as early as possible. This will help people can see that your project is adding value to the organisation.
2. Equip staff to be effective
Project team members could be struggling because they do not have the tools they need to do a better job. Leadership involves empowering and equipping your team with what they need to be effective. This could be:
· A suitable working environment
· Equipment such as mobile phones or laptops
· Time (in which case you should be negotiating an extension to the project’s deadline).
3. Make decisions based on data
Good leaders are transparent and fair and that means making decisions based on data. Some decisions will be straightforward. Others may mean you need to brainstorm, structure and organise your data to ensure that you understand everything before you make your final decision.
Transparency around how you make decisions ensures that people understand why decisions were taken. They can see the rationale behind the outcome and follow your logic. They might not agree with you, but they should be able to appreciate that you have been fair. This will go a long way to demonstrating your trustworthiness and leadership and stop a lot of team negativity.
4. Be a champion
You are trying to fight off the doom and gloom messages about your project, so don’t be part of the problem. Talk positively about your work and how much you enjoy it. Your sunny disposition will start to rub off on others. As Alfonso Bucero says, today is a good day. Project leaders who approach work with a positive attitude are more likely to inspire their teams and are more persuasive.
Take every opportunity to speak professionally about your project with an outlook that reflects what great work you are doing and the fantastic team you are working with.
5. Spread the word
Finally, talk, talk, talk. Write articles for your internal staff magazines and your company intranet. Mention your project in passing and tell people how fantastic it is. You are leading an amazing project so let everyone know!
Even simple things like increasing the distribution list on your project reports can help with spreading positive messages about your project which will start to change how people think about it.
If you don’t feel that you can act and feel positive about your project with the objective of leading it to success and boosting its reputation you have two choices:
· Change the team: this may work if you believe in the goals but are hampered by negative attitudes. However, if your project’s reputation is still in tatters there is no guarantee that anyone will want to come and work with you.
· Close the project: as a leader it’s your responsibility to advise your project sponsor if you feel the project cannot continue. Projects are normally closed because it’s identified that they cannot meet their original goals and deliver value to the organisation.
Sometimes these are the right paths to take. Use your leadership skills to weigh up the options, consult your team if necessary and come to a balanced, data-driven conclusion about what to do next.
I hope you can turn around people’s opinions and make your project the most talked about initiative in your organisation.
About the author:
Elizabeth Harrin is the award-winning blogger behind A Girl’s Guide To Project Management. You can download her free ebook about managing projects with PRINCE2 so that your projects stay on time, on budget and on scope every time.