Maintaining strong productivity throughout your project’s lifecycle—across all the functional areas working to move an initiative from planning to execution—is a core component in achieving consistent project success. Difficult situations, however, often create challenges when it comes to keeping productivity levels up.
Our project management consultants have helped high-functioning organizations work through complex productivity hurdles, and there are some common scenarios that can create problems even if your team has a long history of strong performance.
1 – The business goes through a reorg.
Any time you have a shakeup—particularly a significant one—your team’s productivity could take a hit. They might face a slew of updated processes and workflows to navigate, such as when purchasing activities move from one department to another and in-flight project-related items are disrupted. Or your group could have a sponsor who suddenly needs to put some near-term attention on a new department within their division. Your project may experience delays in receiving approvals from that champion or a lag in securing other types of support that are needed to move the project forward.
Try this: Prepare your team in advance as much as you can. You may not have all the details behind why the business structure is changing, but you should still begin working immediately with the information that’s available to you. As a group, brainstorm all the touch points that could be affected—if some are iffy, rank them in terms of likelihood—and come up with a strategy to maintain momentum while the dust settles.
2 – New project team leaders come on board.
The addition of senior-level group members has the potential to impact your team’s productivity. Your new additions might bring with them ideas on updating your methodology or you may decide to reshuffle reporting hierarchies to make the most of your expanded knowledge base. In many cases, productivity dips will likely be contained to the leader’s immediate workgroup and some thoughtful planning will help ensure that disruptions to the team’s normal rhythms are short lived.
Try this: Discuss anticipated changes to the group’s structure or workflows ahead of time, at least to the extent you’re able to share your plans without divulging sensitive information. Solicit input on where team members are most concerned about upheavals to existing processes. Then evaluate where adjustments are likely to be needed and work with the team to smooth out the transition and keep activities going as everyone gets acclimated.
3 – Key sponsors exit the project (or the organization).
The loss of an active and influential sponsor is often a recipe for a productivity lapse, and the effects may be felt more acutely if the champion not only transitions away from the project but leaves the business entirely. Your supporters play a key role in moving their assigned projects toward successful outcomes and in many instances shoulder the responsibility for maintaining financial backing over the long term. Your team could feel a few bumps in the road as they work to backfill the void left by a departing sponsor and you may even worry how you’ll keep the effort moving ahead.
Try this: Bring your team together and develop a comprehensive view of the outgoing sponsor’s support level. Determine where existing champions can realistically help to fill gaps—even if only temporarily—and formulate an outreach plan to gather input on their appetite (and ability) to offer increased support. In addition, you should prioritize connecting with the executive group for an update on whether the sponsorship change affects the initiative’s standing or status within the firm’s wider project portfolio.