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Guide for Getting Projects Back on Track (Part II: Baselines & Leadership)

Guide for Getting Projects Back on Track (Part II: Baselines & Leadership). In the last post you had met the former PM of the off track project in order to make a formal handover and collect all available information about the project. Let´s assume, as most of the times happen, that the main conclusion of the handover meeting is that the baseline of the project is not defined, requirements are not clear, goals are not defined, risks are not identified, and so on… Then.. how to proceed? What to do next?

First thing that has to be made clear to the project steering committee and the main stakeholders, is that a project baseline has to be defined. It does not make sense to take the project and keep running doing activities for trying to commit to the planned end date of the project, if the baseline is not clear. If you do this, you will be just doing the same that the former PM, and most probably the project will never be back on track and will not succeed.

Another thing to be taken into account, is that you have been appointed for making the project to be back on track and you are seen as the leader that will make the “miracle” to happen. As such, it has to be noticed that you are on board taking the lead now, and things are going to be done in a different way from all perspectives.

In this post, I do not want to focus in how to define a baseline of the project applying project management methodologies if not in a perspective that for me is more important, that is the human part.

A common point in all projects that are off track is the demotivation of most of  the project team members.  Some of the reasons why a project team may be demotivated are:

  • Roles and responsibilities are not clear
  • Project goals are not defined or are not communicated
  • Lack of visibility on the project status
  • Working in silos
  • Lack of planning
  • Their opinions are not listened or not taken into account
  • The project manager is not perceived as a leader

Therefore, one of the main priorities when taking the lead in a project that is off-track is to meet the project team members and work with them in three lines: Aspiration, Inspiration and Motivation.

  • Aspiration: Get to know them, understand them, which one are their desires, their needs, their dreams.
  • Inspiration: Envision success based on a foundation of reality. Show them how success is achievable
  • Motivation: Track, show and celebrate the progress made towards the goals.

Doing this you will create a real TEAM, being all on board in the same boat working towards the same goals. Being successful on this, will make you pass a key milestone in your journey for getting the project back on track and make it succeed.