How to Deliver Your Project Goals

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A goal without a plan is just a wish. It’s a popular saying for a reason: because it’s true. Anything that you want to achieve – in your own career, within your current project, or even with your team – needs to be fully backed up with a plan. In my last post, I focused on defining career goals, but effective project management is also based on articulating a goal for your team or project. Here’s some strategies you can use on your next job.

Articulate the Goals

team achieving goals

Projects succeed when teamwork is valued – when everyone places the same importance on shared project goals and is willing to support each other to achieve them. The project manager defines these goals for the team, and helps them become shared goals by creating an empowered team. In many ways, it is just like a football coach or detective standing in front of their team and putting up a few different scenarios or suspects – leading the team to visualize what needs to be done.

Be Specific

Project goals are really a high-level description of what needs doing. They don’t have any detail behind them of how to move from concept to delivery. As anyone involved in construction knows, that’s where a detailed plan of who is doing what and when it needs to be done is essential to driving the project forward.

You can’t assume that everyone on the project will automatically know all the steps involved. That’s why a detailed plan supported by meaningful project controls will help focus the team members’ efforts and provide a clear roadmap to the end goal.

a team brainstorming a goal plan

A detail-oriented project manager – as so many of us are – would likely excel at this. But be careful that you don’t extinguish all the wonderful ideas that may come from each person in your team. The best plan has input from everyone working together as a group to achieve the project goals. In this situation, the project manager must become a true facilitator, guiding the team towards the optimum delivery plan.

Use If-Then Planning

Creating a plan is a great start – but often, as time goes on it becomes more difficult to stick to the original plans. A useful technique I discovered for helping you stay on track is called if-then planning. To use this, you pick a cue, which can be a specific time, situation, action, or place. Then you link an action to that cue. For example, If I haven’t answered all my emails by 4pm, then I will stop and make time to reply to my unanswered emails.

I don’t want to sound like a magazine article, but psychologists say that by creating this trigger in your mind, your brain will then continuously scan for this cue. When you look up from your work at 4:15pm, you’ll realize that it’s time to stop and answer your emails. Without if-then planning, you would probably remember while you’re cooking your supper that night. Give it a try – it’s a great way to help you and your team manage all your tasks and keep to the project plan.

A Recipe for Success

If you can give your team shared project goals, a specific, action-oriented plan, and a tool for managing their tasks, you’ve given yourself the best chance of delivering your next project successfully. And in a healthcare environment, that means designing and building spaces that promote communication, engagement, and healing. For more project management ideas and resources, check out my book, Health Well Done: A Patient-Centered Management Approach to Building Healthcare Environments.