So many objectives – so much failure

That’s the refrain of leaders everywhere.

The business objectives they need to meet in order to be successful in their jobs are taking longer than planned, costing more than budgeted or failing out right.

Why do good objectives go bad?

Here is what my clients say are the 10 most common mistakes that cause their good objectives to go bad – and the coaching solutions I helped them with to solve these costly problems.

Mistake No. 1: Not Assigning the Right Manager. Typically more time is spent on fighting for resources other finding the right person to lead. Too often managers get picked based on availability, not necessarily on skill set. This is a grievance mistake as more projects failed because of the wrong manager, than could ever be blamed on lack of resources.

Solution: Choose a manager whose skills best match the requirements of your objectives.

Mistake No. 2: Failing to Get Everyone On Board. Too often, objectives fail because they didn’t get enough support from those affected by and involved in the project. Often the manager:

  1. Didn’t make clear what everyone’s role was.
  2. Didn’t describe the payoff when the objective was achieved.
  3. Didn’t tell how each person’s contributions would be evaluated.
  4. Failed to generate a sense of urgency.

Solution: The project manager should start by calling the team together and delivering a presentation about the objective, its importance to the broader organization.

Read More: How to Communicate

Mistake No. 3: Not Getting Executive Buy-in.

Solution: A ship with out a captain soon runs aground. Somebody at the higher levels of the organization needs to own the objective and be personally vested in its success.

If the objective isn’t important to your boss, then ask yourself why it should be important to you.

Mistake No. 4: Putting Too Many Objectives on the table at One time. Most managers think that they can start and work on every objective at the same time. In reality, multitasking slows people down, hurts quality and, worst of all, the delays caused by multitasking cascade and multiply through the organization as people further down the line wait for others.

Solution: A good first step to stop productivity losses is to reduce the objectives you are working on by 25 percent. Though counter-intuitive, reducing the number of open projects increases completion rates.”

Read more about priorities

Mistake No. 5: Lack of (Regular) Communication. Communication is the most important factor of successful objectives, without regularly and clearly communicating, the project will fall apart.”

Solution: Schedule time each week to review progress and stick with it. Having regularly scheduled meetings and communications processes helps to keep everyone on the same page and work flowing.

Mistake No. 6: Not Being Specific with the Scope of the Objective. Any objective that doesn’t have a clear goal is doomed. Mission creep is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to your project. If not handled properly it can lead to cost and time overrun.

Solution: Define the scope of your project from the outset and monitor the project by continually asking is the work we are doing contributing to the objectives success.

Mistake No. 7: Providing Overly Optimistic Timelines. The intentions are noble, but missing deadline after deadline will only lead to distrust and aggravation.

Solution: Add a buffer — some extra time and money to your project.

Mistake No. 8: Not Being Flexible. While you may think of your plan as your bible that leads you to your goal… listen to new information and suggestions that come up along the way.

Solution: Step back and take a fresh look at the overall project, review how things have gone so far, and how you can improve.

Mistake No. 9: Micromanaging Projects. It’s common for new managers to treat their job like an enforcer, policing the team for progress and updates.

Solution: Set expectations from the start that there will be regularly scheduled updates to advise the status and progress expected and encourage them to vocalize any issues.

Read more about micromanagement

Mistake No. 10: Not Having Defined Success.

Solution: The first thing a manager should do is to ensure what will be considered a successful completion of the objective. Understanding what success looks like ensures everyone walks away satisfied at the end.

 

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