Getting Focused When a Project Spins Out of Control

John Krautzel
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For many leaders, the most difficult part of managing projects is refocusing the team when it gets out of control. This is particularly true for new managers or managers who don't use a clearly delineated project management process. Whatever your management style, you can increase productivity by developing a set of tools and methods that can help your team focus when they stray from the main goal.

While they are managing projects, management professionals often find themselves drifting from the central management role. They might begin to tackle individual parts of a project or get too involved in one aspect. If you find yourself doing the work that should fall to your team members, you may be contributing to the problem. When it comes to managing projects, your primary role is that of a leader, not a ground-level worker; you should be focusing on the big picture instead of handling small details.

In many cases, the first step toward refocusing your team is returning to your role as a manager. Delegate all low-level tasks to another worker. Then, take a look at the overall scope of the project to identify where your team has gotten off track. Define the base-level deliverable—that is, the smallest possible product that your team can complete to consider the project a success. Determine the necessary steps to achieve that product, and delegate work accordingly. When you're managing projects, focusing on the minimum possible deliverable helps ensure that your team completes its work and leaves plenty of room for extra improvements along the way. While your team works, make sure to keep track of progress and offer regular feedback.

If your team is having trouble staying focused at work, the issue may be that the goals seem impossible. As your team members try to figure out how to accomplish an enormous project, they may get lost in potential ideas. To that end, one of the most important steps in managing projects is setting small milestones. Each milestone should be easy to achieve; that way, your team can easily picture the goal and the process without losing focus. When team members are struggling with staying focused at work, examine their current projects, breaking them down into steps. Ask your employees to focus on one step at a time. In most cases, this small action can help bring new focus to a project. According to Women's Agenda, reexamining your goals can help you refocus on current project priorities.

When you're managing projects, your team may very naturally lose focus. By preparing for a loss of focus and planning ways to bring the team back together, you can reduce stress and increase team efficiency.




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