Pushing the envelope

We’ve just completed 2 back to back projects with tight deadlines over a 3 month stretch. This has been an extremely demanding period, I haven’t been through anything like this since Y2K! The team was asked to deliver on extremely tight deadlines and put in a substantial amount of over time hours and weekends. We we’re successful but it came at a cost, the team is tired and generally grumpy.

I’ve drawn some interesting observations from this experience:

1. When deadlines are tight you need to manage the team closely. You need to set daily objectives and make deadlines and priorities very clear. I found doing stand up scrum meetings with all stakeholders once a day very effective. Avoid the temptation to stand over people’s shoulders and nag them.

2. You need to let people vent. People are going to get frustrated or even angry. They will want to blame somebody or somebody’s mistake for getting them into a tight deadline. You just need to listen, let them get it off their chest. They will feel better and will appreciate your attention. Avoid telling them to suck it up, but instead give them the truth about why we need to do this and what happens if we fail. Be sure to cut them off if they get disrespectful, you need to make sure it stays professional.

3. You need to stay positive. Your attitude will be reflected by those in your team. If your team sees you being down or negative they will loose their motivation and work will slow right down.

I can’t say that I was perfect during this period, but I gave it my best. One of the big reasons I write this blog is to reflect on my successes and my mistakes and learn from them.

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