Implementing plans is hard for teams. I get it. I see it all the time.

Struggling to implement plans is one key roadblock most teams have in common. I’ve worked with countless teams over the years to overcome planning issues.  I’ve noticed they all seem to get caught up in the same kinds of energy-sapping, time-draining mistakes. Even when their plans progress, they pay a high price in terms of lost productivity, team morale, and often, lost business.

You or someone on your team is likely suffering the consequences of at least one of the five common mistakes I’ve identified. Fortunately, you can learn how to identify them, too – and fix them, so you can recover team trust, time and other scarce resources.

The five mistakes are:

  1. Fuzzy plans
  2. Lack of reporting team progress (below)
  3. Not using tools
  4. No support for task managers
  5. No accountability

In this series of five articles, I’ll be highlighting one of these problems each week. By looking at these one at a time (which is a great strategy to help teams overcome roadblocks: one at a time!), you’ll have the chance to consider how you can implement these fixes at work and with your volunteer teams.  If you’d rather read the entire report immediately, you can access it here. As a bonus, the full report also includes clarifying tips to help you improve your team’s plan implementation!

Last week, I talked about Mistake #1: Fuzzy plans. Click here if you’d like to read that article now.

Mistake #2: Nobody has an up-to-the-minute report on the team’s progress.

Years ago, I helped a community organization design and execute a brand-new fundraising event. An incredible group of volunteers came together to form the committee. They were trustworthy and capable of working independently. To establish to-do lists and target dates, the team met a couple of times. Then, they went their separate ways and dove into the work.

These volunteers became stressed to the breaking point before I was asked to help. They were duplicating efforts, contacting local business owners multiple times, and stepping on the toes of trusted community partners. The group was ignoring some to-do list items, and missed ticketing and printing deadlines. Luckily, I saw what was going on immediately. As simple as it sounds, they were suffering from the effects of not having current status reports.

Fix for Mistake #2: Appoint a status manager: a person to remind task managers, track progress, and report to the team. 

Here’s the trick to making this work: don’t try to make the status manager responsible for keeping the team moving forward or for the success of the project. That kind of ultimate responsibility needs to rest on the shoulders of someone who has the authority to hold people accountable –  in other words, a status manager is not the same as a project manager. Instead, choose a status manager who is a capable, detail-oriented, well-respected person. Put this person in charge of checking in with team members frequently. Their job is simply to ask if tasks are progressing, record the responses, and report back to the entire team on a regular basis.

While you may rightly assume this is what a project manager does, remember not every project or business employs a designated project manager! And not every project manager is good at reporting back to the team. If you already have a project manager, make certain they are doing the critical job of reporting project status to the team.

Next in this series: Mistake #3, not using project recording and reporting tools.

Download the complete series by clicking here.

Help us Help YOU

Have you ever served as a status manager for a project? Leave a comment below to tell us. We pledge to provide you with insight and solutions to help you build success for every one of your teams.

Kay Coughlin, CEO, Facilitator on Fire, is passionate about helping teams make confident decisions and plans in unbelievably productive workshops.

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