Taking charge Featured

9:52am EDT July 22, 2002

If the word “project” makes you squirm, help may be on the way. Virginia LaGrossa and Suzanne Saxe, the authors of a new book, “The Consultive Approach: Partnering for Results,” say there is a way to pull it off successfully. Here is their quick list of 10 ways to lead a project to success:

1. Tune your communications skills.

Practice paying attention to details and looking at different perspectives.

2. Clearly define the goals of the project in the first meeting.

Make sure everyone on the team knows and buys into the goals. Spend a lot of time in the planning phase, and the execution phase will be much less painful and more successful.

3. Make sure work assignments and individual skills are well matched.

Don’t ask the worker who is known for his inefficiency to organize notes from the meeting. Make sure work responsibilities are well defined and clearly understood.

4. Link the goals of the project to the company’s overall business goals.

By connecting the project to the company’s strategic objectives, you are less likely to find yourself slaving over a project that gets the ax.

5. Establish a protocol for project meetings.

Send everyone an agenda prior to each meeting. Include how long the meeting will last and always stick to the agenda and honor the time commitment.

6. Become the “master facilitator” at the meeting.

This includes effective management of the discussion — making sure everyone gets heard and all are clear on the agreed upon direction to be taken. This means keeping the project moving. Nothing burns people out quicker than a stagnant project.

7. Hold people accountable and honor your own commitments.

If you assign parts of the project to others, make sure they deliver. It frustrates other team members when duties are not completed on time. It is also a key to building trust within the team.

8. Make sure the project stays on schedule and on budget.

Establish a series of checkpoints in the planning phase so you will know if you are on schedule. These should serve as small celebration milestones.

9. Play, and encourage others to play, different roles within the project.

Your role may move quickly between being a coach, administrator, problem solver and technical expert. Be responsive by playing the appropriate role for a given situation.

10. If you are a project leader, lead the project.

Bother your boss only when necessary. Keep him or her abreast of progress, but do not get involved in the details. If you have to go to your boss with a problem, have some solutions in hand.

For more information: “The Consultive Approach: Partnering for Results,” (800) 956-7739 or visit www.josseybass.com