So many objectives – so many failures
That’s the refrain of leaders everywhere.
The business objectives they need to meet to be successful in their jobs are taking longer than planned, costing more than budgeted or failing outright.
Why do good objectives go bad?
My clients say the ten most common mistakes that cause their good objectives to go wrong – 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 fighting for resources than finding the right person to lead. Too often, managers get picked based on availability, not necessarily skill set. This is a severe mistake as more projects failed because of the wrong manager than could ever be blamed for 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 don’t get enough support from those affected by and involved in the project. Usually, the manager:
- It didn’t make clear what everyone’s role was.
- It didn’t describe the payoff when the objective was achieved.
- It didn’t tell how each person’s contributions would be evaluated.
- 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 and its importance to the broader organization.
Mistake No. 3: Not Getting Executive Buy-in.
Solution: A ship without 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 crucial to your boss, ask yourself why it should be meaningful.
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.”
Mistake No. 5: Lack of (Regular) Communication. Communication is the most crucial factor of successful objectives; without regularly communicating, the project will fall apart.”
Solution: Schedule time each week to review progress and stick with it. Regularly scheduled meetings and communications processes help 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 if our work is contributing to the objective’s 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 the 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. New managers commonly treat their job as 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.
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.