Back from some time off and feeling a bit overwhelmed, I wasn’t quite sure how to attack the problem of taming a chaos I can’t see.
I decided to learn a simple but important task and did that. It took me too long though.
Moving on I took stock of all the things I needed to do. Each one can be defined as a project; each is a deliverable; each gets a number, a category, a responsible point of contact, a start date and a projected date of delivery. Each is tagged by the platform used as well.
Completed work is filed by folder and category, by project number.
But that isn’t enough.
I work up an early accomplishment report, imagining it’s the end of the year, next year. Within that report I generate categories of accomplishment.
Those categories become codes, and I go back and recode the project tracker.
It’s a laborious effort, but I stick with it. The point is to refine the process of doing the work, to generate key performance indicators that make sense. The categories of work are the work that matters, and they’re arranged in order of priority.
“Measure twice cut once,” an old colleague used to say, and he was right about that. You don’t want to spend your entire day coding and tracking. But if you:
- Touch base once a day on project progress;
- Save templates where you can (another post); and
- Update accomplishments once a week in the key categories…
…you can be pretty sure you’re making progress.
How do you know you’re making the kind of progress your organization wants?
The answer is that you’ll be handing in work (closing projects) regularly. As you do that, you will get a sense of whether the effort you’re putting forth is at the very least getting positive feedback.
How can you avoid putting in a lot of work, only to get slammed in the end with a poor rating, on a single project or your overall performance?
That, too, belongs in another post, but for now suffice it to say that you want to develop a steady tempo of work. The benefits of this:
- Your stakeholders know how long a particular type of job takes you (time expectations).
- Your approach to the work becomes clear over time (consistency expectations).
- Comments about the work appear at steady intervals (customer feedback allowing for adjustment of approach and identification of additional resources needed).
Consistency and efficiency also lend themselves to the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) which can be documented for yourself, your team and new hires.
Even if you’re going to change your way of doing things (and you will), it’s important to get a battle rhythm going, follow it, and document briefly but intelligibly what you’re working on, what the goal is and why it matters, if this isn’t immediately obvious.
Important to note is that most of us have a system that makes perfect sense in our minds but little sense to others. Therefore, keep the project tracking effort limited to those who must be involved.
Also keep in mind that when you’re new to the organization, you are inevitable dealing with lots of other people and their systems, too. Wherever their tracker meets up with your world of work, you need to learn about how they do things.
By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own.