How to Know if Your Project Was Effective

How to Know if Your Project Was Effective

No matter what your profession, you have projects. Projects are larger-scale tasks/initiatives that gather multiple people with a myriad of steps to accomplish something of impact for a recipient. They take a lot of energy and time. And, I believe that anything worth doing is worth evaluating–both for what worked and what could be improved for the next project.

Sure, the main metric for effectiveness is whether we got ‘er done, but what about looking at many different gears in the process for fine-tuning. Doing a post-mortem following a project’s completion might include a rating scale of 1-10 on these statements:

  • The team worked together well (good communication, dynamics, and relational connections).
  • The team was able to succeed without the leader.
  • We did our best work within the time frame allotted.
  • Everyone was given the big picture. Expectations were aligned to the vision and well-communicated on the front end and clarified throughout based on ongoing results. Feedback flowed freely–with respectful candor.
  • The team held themselves accountable to their action items.
  • Status reports were timely and well-communicated to those who needed to be included.
  • We hit our milestones along the way and celebrated them. The final product accomplished what was intended.
  • We included those who needed to be engaged.
  • Our constituents were pleased with the results.
  • We stayed on or under budget.
  • Our work benefited our organization and each team member.

Then there are questions to ask yourself as team leader (or team member) for evaluating your part in the project:

  • Did I contribute quality work?
  • Did I meet the deadlines with my tasks?
  • Did I improve the project in some way?
  • Did I learn something that will help me in future projects from someone else?
  • Did I stretch myself outside my comfort zone?
  • Did I help someone get over some hurdles, stay out of trouble, and succeed?
  • Did I delegate appropriately both responsibility and authority?
  • Were the expectations on my role fulfilled?
  • Did I stand on high moral ground and take the high road when in conflict?
  • Did I self-regulate any negative feelings along the way?
  • Was I approachable for communication and never a bottleneck to progress?

You might want to add your own questions to mine to customize it to your situation, or to emphasize an area of greater importance to what success looks like.  I’d love to hear your additions to the list! I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org

10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

To be on the “top of your game” every day, you must have your thought patterns in the right place. Your thoughts turn into feelings with turn into actions and then into your results. 

What kind of mindset could you adopt, to better assure this will be a successful Monday (or any day!)?

  • I will not take myself so seriously. It’s OK to make mistakes; don’t put so much pressure on yourself as to be overwhelmed or in a negative space mentally/emotionally. Say, “This is temporary; there’s light at the end of this tunnel.”
  • I will take a break when I start to feel my energy dip.  “Put yourself in time-out.” You reach points of diminishing returns when you insist on pushing through and being productive when you are on empty.
  • I will stay on top of my goals/priorities. Go into another week/day feeling clear on “the plan” of what you want to accomplish. Make a short list of priorities. Clean off your desk and close your computer tabs, except for materials/resources you will need that relate to those priorities. Don’t waste time; begin ready for the day and focus!
  •  I will not letting my feelings control/define me. Adopt as much of a relaxed/at peace mindset as possible, knowing that you have the ability to take things as they come. Worry is destructive and gets you nowhere fast.
  • I will choose to be positive and solution-oriented.   Assuming good intentions of your family and colleagues puts you in a posture of curiosity and positivity. Choose happiness over the alternatives. You are not a victim and “everything is figure-out-able.”
  • I will not let fear take me down. Even if you have moments of impostor syndrome, you have a reservoir of confidence to tap into, based on your experience and wisdom. Self-talk: “I’m ready to take this on!” and  “I’m making a difference!”
  • I will be proactive vs. reactive. If it’s a task, show initiative and go after it, asking for help along the way. Don’t wait for a fire to be lit around you before you step up. Speak out a creative possibility. Have the difficult conversation before things get worse. Maintain an action mindset.
  • I will do something today to keep growing forward. Make time today and every day to learn, whether it be listening to a podcast while getting ready for work or while working out, carving out time to watch an inspirational video, or picking out a self-leadership book (or technical resource) to dive into. Be a little better today than you were yesterday.
  • I will have faith and hope that things will get better. This anticipation of brighter days pulls you forward into another day/week. A loss of hope leads to depression, which mires you in a pit of despair. Find things to look forward to: hobbies, trips, appointments with people that inspire you, conversations with God, etc.
  • I will put myself in others’ shoes. Everyone experiences hardship in their lives. You have no idea what they are going through. Assume they need encouragement and support—and give it liberally. Empathize with their situation and give grace. When you see things from others’ perspective, it softens yours; together, you might just collaborate to a win-win solution for both of you.

These 10 mindset motivators could be printed up and put on your dashboard, monitor, office door, or journal. Speak them into your life daily to set your intentions for the day. Brighter week ahead!

Want to chat about how coaching might lessen your stress and increase your peace of mind and productivity? Let’s see if the time is right for you. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org

16 Daily Success Habits

16 Daily Success Habits

I queried my coaching clients last month for the habits they do every day in order to have a better chance at a typical day being successful. It’s important to do them every day and be fully present/invested in them in order to get the cumulative effect of them on your life.

Outside of work:

  • Exercising regularly: this habit was mentioned the most often by my clients–some choose the morning, others at lunch time to rejuvenate their afternoons, and others, right after work
  • Journaling: a place to write down feelings, learnings, chronology of your life
  • Drinking more water: having that water bottle/hydroflask always within arm’s reach
  • Eating healthier: most are making small changes, from cutting out most sugar, to eating breakfast daily, to intermittent fasting.
  • Going to sleep earlier; getting up earlier: not wasting time by staying up late, but instead “getting after it” first thing in the morning
  • Doing spiritual practices: some found that Bible-reading, meditation, or prayer set the tone for a great day by setting positive intentions
  • Prioritizing Me-time: some solitude just for self without obligations to family or anyone else, for personal recharging

At work:

  • Refreshing the to-do list, then setting priorities and reminders: some kind of daily review/preview was the next highest response for success; clients wanted to stay current with what was most important to pursue and not let it fall off their radar screens
  • Checking in/engaging with someone: especially while tele-working, it takes effort–but well-worth the effort–to connect with a colleague, supervisor, or direct report
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for productivity; getting action items crossed off the list; getting a project to a milestone: blocking time for specific tasks is a time management superpower; honoring those appointments with yourself takes discipline–but the results are completed tasks, a great “reward”!
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for strategic thinking: most leaders know they need this time, but it’s tough to protect the time for thinking through ideas or next steps or a better vision for the future of the organization or team
  • Following up: this habit builds trust when you do what you say you will do; it’s also important for closing loops, and for assuring delegated tasks are moving along toward completion
  • Responding to communications promptly: it’s vital to not be the bottle-neck in someone else getting down their critical path to their task or project; answer those emails and text messages!
  • Staying organized: letting paperwork or email get out of control only doubles your stress; make systems for everything–and work your systems daily–in order to stay on top of everything
  • Developing a team member, matching their strengths to tasks: great leaders spend a little time each day helping a team member move forward on their goals or career plan, removing obstacles or making connections for them or pointing them to resources for growth
  • Bringing energy/enthusiasm/inspiration to someone else: teams become shadows of their leaders–so, by projecting enthusiasm onto others, it can become contagious–and who wants to follow an uninspired leader?

It’s a great list to pick from! How many of these do you practice regularly? What new habit do you want to incorporate this month? Let’s interact at growingforward@paulcasey.org or at Growing Forward Services on Facebook.

Increase Your Capacity to Do More with Less

Increase Your Capacity to Do More with Less

Pressure mounts at work when:

  • someone retires or gets fired, and it’s been determined the position won’t be filled
  • someone goes out on leave for an extended amount of time
  • responsibilities get added to your plate that aren’t in your job description
  • new regulations force a new way of doing things 
  • you have a sudden increase in customers/clients to keep happy
  • you have a new supervisor with higher expectations

Now what? You can’t clone yourself! But you only have so many hours in the day, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight! That’s a recipe for burnout if you don’t find a way to either shed some responsibilities to ease your load, or increase your capacity–and still make it happen. Let’s pretend you’ve delegated all you can, and your plate is still over-full.

  1. Improve specific skills. One way to increase capacity is to get better at what you do so that it takes less time. Your efficiency gets you through one task and on to another one more quickly instead of all the hesitation that comes with not knowing what to do next.
  2. Set boundaries and practice self-care. Since it’s time to put on your cape and be a superhero, it’s going to take you being in tip-top performance shape. By getting plenty of quality sleep, daily exercise of 10,000 steps, food that is fuel and not garbage, and a healthy NO that rolls off your tongue when even more “opportunities” come your way, you will be able to cope with the increased, sustained stress.
  3. Stay in your strengths zone. You are one talented worker. Do you remember why? For what elements of your job have people praised you, for years and years? What tasks give you the most energy at work, where it almost seems effortless? You’ve got to do more of THAT. Working too long in your weak areas will make you feel weak, and it will take twice as long, too.
  4. Get incredibly organized. To keep up with the influx of email, paperwork and people to serve–and technologies and supervisors to adapt to–, your work space and systems must be a well-oiled machine. Make sure there’s an easy home for everything that crosses your desk so that piles don’t form, causing distracting clutter (and thus, overwhelm). Take care of quick tasks in the moment, and block out productivity time for more critical thinking tasks–and honor those appointments with yourself!
  5. Triage tasks and then prioritize. You now must become a time management ninja. Actually, let’s call it priority management. As request for your time flow your direction via multiple media, have a master task list in one place to capture each task. Unless it’s urgent to do right away (and only YOU determine if something is truly urgent), set a daily time to review your day and preview the next day. During this half-hour of prime time, you’ll refresh your to-do list and choose your top 3 tasks for tomorrow that you MUST do, to make it a good day.  Rank the other tasks by importance, urgency, and significance and tackle them accordingly as the week progresses.
  6. Use available resources. Sing it with me, “We all need somebody to lean on.” When under additional stress, enlist the help of anyone you can–even if they just can take a piece of a project. Talk to your mentor or coach for advice. Find a way to automate some tasks using technology.

Deep breath. You can do this! Increase your capacity when your load can’t be lightened “the easy ways” and you’ll keep Growing Forward!

Still feeling overwhelmed? Check out my blog on that topic for some practical tips to deal with overwhelm.

I mentioned time management, and I have a free tool for you at www.takebackmycalendar.com Pick up my free Control My Calendar Checklist to get those first systems started. 

Why Remote Teambuilding Exercises Are More Important Than Ever–Guest Blog from Patrick Bailey

Why Remote Teambuilding Exercises Are More Important Than Ever–Guest Blog from Patrick Bailey

The trend towards working remotely has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, before 2020, working remotely was a rapidly growing implementation by many organizations around the world. 

Historically, shared in-person team-building experiences were effective ways of bringing together a group of colleagues outside of the mundane work environment. Unfortunately, this is no longer a possibility, at least not for a while. However, modern technology makes it feasible to spend time with work colleagues without being in the same location. 

Given the current global climate, team building is still critical. Team-building exercises, whether in-person or virtual, are more important than ever.

Why Hold Remote Team Building Exercises

While some see remote team-building exercises as wasting precious company resources, there are compelling reasons and hard data for holding them:

  • One conflict within a team of six high-level earners (over $100,00 per year) costs the company around $255,000.
  • Team building increases employee engagement, which can double a company’s profits. 
  • 94.2% of employees say that team-building exercises improve employer-employee relationships.
  • 94.5% of employees say team building facilitates open dialogue in the workplace.
  • 96.3% of employees find that team building has a positive influence on employee-employee relationships.

Other reasons why continuing team-building in a remote world is important include:

Building Trust

In the corporate world, trust is a major factor among work colleagues. As a team, you need to be able to rely on one another when working on projects, gathering information, or making presentations to upper management. Maintaining that sense of mission and unity is more difficult when the team members are seldom in the same room. Remote team building reinforces that sense of trust.

Increasing Communication

Communication is the backbone of any successful endeavor in life. In the remote office, being able to effectively communicate ideas is even more critical. Remote team building activities open the communication flood gates within departments or groups.

Stimulating Creativity

Even when sitting at a laptop at home, fun and interactive team-building experiences can get the creative juices flowing, 

Eliminates Silos

Many employees live alone and feel isolated and out-of-the-loop without face-to-face interactions during the regular workday. Team building exercises help many employees feel more included as part of the team, even if they are not in the same room. This is especially true for those dealing with family members that have substance abuse and need to find nearby Al-Anon meetings for their sanity.

Reveals Talents

As with in-person team-building experiences, virtual team building can help reveal to management and other employees who has hidden talents that could be an asset to the corporation.

Team Building Strategies

The lack of in-office social interaction has left large swaths of the population feeling like the metaphorical rug has been ripped from beneath them. Now, even more than in the past, it is critical to facilitate a healthy social environment, even when virtual.

Here are a few key strategies for remote team building.

Assemble a Pep Squad

Learning the new rules of virtual socialization can be so awkward and unfamiliar that there is less enthusiasm for remote team building. Combat this by recruiting spirited employees to motivate the rest of the team. Encourage employees with a positive dynamic and a knack for building up colleagues and socializing to volunteer for a remote team-building pep squad. They may be able to transfer their excitement to the virtual world.

Be Creative

While many companies feel that in most areas the best action is to play it safe, team-building exercises are not one. Try to innovate. 

Sharing a fun fact about oneself during a Zoom meeting is boring, unengaging, not specific to the company culture, and has been done a thousand times already. Find or create a more interesting activity, such as virtual trivia, a company talent show, or a public employee recognition program.

Prioritize Inclusivity

With employees performing their functions in different work environments, the importance of including everyone is higher than ever. Some employees are isolated in a studio apartment and others are attempting to balance a fused work-and-family life. When you plan remote team building activities, consider the following factors:

  • Communication methods
  • Family life
  • Seniority
  • Socialization style
  • Substance use
  • Time zones

Well-planned and -executed remote team-building activities have many positive aspects that can contribute to the morale of a department and be beneficial to those involved. Even though it may seem like a major investment in resources, in the long run, it saves money and leads to the best results.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 

 

Sources

  1. shrm.org – Building Team Bonds
  2. employer-employee relationships nulab.com/blog/collaboration/team-bonding-exploring-how-mandatory-and-optional-activities-affect-employees/ – Team bonding: Exploring how mandatory and optional activities affect employees
  3. fond.co – 4 Ways for Employers to Help Ease the Sudden Shift to Remote Work Because of COVID
  4. teambuildingwithtaste.com – Why Team Building is Critical For Virtual Teams
How to Plan Fantastic Fridays

How to Plan Fantastic Fridays

If you are like most workers, you look forward to Fridays. Some people have chosen to intentionally set aside Fridays for one big activity every week, to close out the week strong. Consider one of these “themes” for your Fridays as we enter a new year.

  • Finish It Fridays: Got lots of tabs open on your computer? You know, those things you said you’d come back to later and wrap up.  Got emails needing some deeper thought before you respond? What about half-completed to-do list items or post-its gone wild around your desk? Use Friday as a finisher to get things officially crossed off your lists.
  • Forward-looking Fridays: With potentially fewer emails come in from co-workers, this might be the time to block out an hour or two each week to preview your next week and two or three weeks beyond that. You are looking for what preparation is needed prior to appointments or meetings or deadlines so that you can get prep time onto your calendar next week. Sometimes this is a good habit to do with your team or assistant.
  • Follow-up Fridays: If you are in a business that is always on the lookout for new customers, use Fridays to prospect those leads that you met or were referred to during the past week. Call or email those contacts, reminding them of when you met, and seeing if you can be of service to them. Or, this them could entail responding to clients or co-workers who needed one item from you during your weekly meeting so that they can move forward with you.
  • Favorites Fridays: After you have surveyed your team for what they enjoy most, recognize them more thoughtfully by buying them something to make their day. Favorite coffee drink, snack, flower, office supply–lots of options here.
  • Face-it Fridays: Put one big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) on the last day of the workweek, and move the needle on it. No more procrastination. You can’t do anything else until you Eat That Frog! Ah, the weekend already seems lighter.
  • Face-time Fridays: Tell your team that you have open office hours during a block on Friday for them to touch-base with you about any concerns or ideas they might have. Or use Friday to go on the road and bring a gift to your top customers to show appreciation for doing business with you.

That was fun to brainstorm! Do you have another positive F-verb that could become a Friday theme? Let me know your thoughts at growingforward@paulcasey.org. And, speaking of Forward-looking Fridays, I have a new free tool to share with you: it’s a quick tips sheet on Crafting, casting, and carrying a compelling vision. Just text Beyond to 72000, and we’ll get it to you. Vision time!

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