Sometimes it’s easy to keep score on whether a team is successful or not. Did they win the contest? Yes or no. But sometimes, the team is working on a long-term project that doesn’t complete for months and months, which means there aren’t any wins and losses to evaluate immediately. Are they winning? Are they headed towards a successful conclusion?
You have to be intentional about evaluating team performance. To do it, I suggest that you look at upstream indicators that lend to good performance to gauge potential success. These components are items that you see reflected in most project management methodologies:
1. Is there a clear charter detailing what the project is designed to deliver?
This question is critical because we have a much better chance of ending well if we start well. If people don’t know what the end result should be – if they’re not clear of the intended outcome – they’re going to have a really hard time throughout the project. They’re not going to know whether or not the work they’re doing is in alignment with the end goal. Make sure this information is clearly communicated ahead of time.
2. Is there a living, breathing project plan?
It’s hard for a team to be successful if they don’t have a charted course. You can find your way without a playbook, but there is a higher chance that the team may wander a bit in the wilderness. It’s hard to be successful if everyone’s not on the same path.
3. Does the team routinely come together and discuss the plan progress and challenges?
There is a much better chance to be successful if the team is discussing the project on a cadence. Oftentimes, just knowing that there’s a meeting to discuss the project gets people focused on getting their deliverables completed in a timely manner. In other words, they know they’ll be held accountable and are more likely to show up favorably.
4. Does the team discuss and actively plan to mitigate potential risks?
If the team talks about and plans for risks, they will have a much better chance at resolving them when they come up. Ish happens.
None of these actions are a measure of the actual outcome of a team. They are predictors. If a team doesn’t do at least these 4, success may prove elusive.
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