Herding Squirrels

Creating a cohesive team to get the job done!

It’s the age-old story; you’ve got a project and lots of moving parts…now what?

After you’ve got your project outlined, timeline and deliverables in order and team members assigned (or squirrels in my case!), you’re ready to turn on autopilot and cruise past the finish line, right? Not quite! One of the most important sides of project management is people management (a.k.a squirrel management); the journey together to get things done is just as important as the end goal, or the nut.

“Companies often forget about the culture, and ultimately they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good services from unhappy employees.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com

So how do you make your project team run like a well-oiled machine? Don’t overcomplicate things, take it back to the basics:

1. Define Project Roles: Nothing is worse than having a team member feel like a task was taken away from them. Be open. Things will always change but, if you’re open with how you work through those changes your team will be better equipped to adapt and work through them together.

2. Be Present: You’ve probably got a million things on your plate, but try to be mindful when communicating to “be present”. Your team will be more open with you and you’ll probably unearth some new ideas if you give them the attention that is needed.

3. Stick to your Check-ins: Whether it is 15 minutes daily or one hour weekly, nothing is more important than sitting down and talking through things with your team. What are your challenges? What is working well? Train your team to flag issues early and let them know they aren’t on an island alone!

4. Set Goals: Certain projects can seem like they could go on forever. Keep up the momentum by setting goals and acknowledging a job well done. Little wins will give your team the enthusiasm to stick with it and push through more stressful times.

5. Observe: Never stop observing! Don’t be afraid to take off your work hat and have a real conversation, sometimes that can make all the difference to that team member and their future performance.

“You can get a great deal done from almost any position in an organization if you focus on small wins and you don’t mind other’s getting the credit.” – Roger Saillant, Former Senior Executive, Ford Motor Company.

Remember, there is no perfect recipe to ensure your project is successful. Herding the squirrels will be an ongoing challenge until the project is done! Stay calm, and be open and together you’ll get through it.