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How aligning people and projects will deliver better business outcomes

Further to last week’s blog on how aligning strategy with work reduces the performance gap, this week we focus on aligning people with projects to deliver better business outcomes.

Waiting until projects and initiatives fail to work out what’s gone wrong is never the answer. Nor is blaming team members.

Figuring out how to better execute the projects is. That begins by determining whether you have the right skill sets on your team, the structure and culture the team needs to support its daily work and the regular flow of information that’s necessary for timely decision-making.

With so many organisations reliant on projects to deliver against strategic objectives in order to drive business success, business leaders look to their teams to lead and execute these initiatives. Therefore the people and teams running a project must be equipped to do so.

Business leaders looking to drive results and returns need to bear in mind the following:

Project success comes down to the skills and talents of individual project based workers.

  • The composition of project teams, both from a team culture and team structure perspective can impact outcomes
  • Even the most talented individual workers and project teams can suffer from communications challenges
  • As a business leaders there are critical steps you can take to ensure that you are driving success individual, teams and initiatives

Line-of-business leaders are responsible for a variety of strategic initiatives – and bringing these to life means successfully executing an array of projects.

Not only do these projects need to be completed on-time and on-budget, they also have to deliver meaningful business results.

The biggest challenges which can easily jeopardise the ability to execute strategic projects, fall into the following three categories:

  • Not having the right skill sets on your teams
  • Failing to establish the appropriate structure and culture within those teams
  • An overall lack of communication

These are all people related problems, which mean that effectively managing people to deliver on the strategy – by empowering and upskilling their project team members.

One of the main problems with not having the right skill sets arises when project teams are assembled based on staff availability and the critically important relational skills get overlooked.

To avoid this, it is important to identify the unique personality traits of all prospective project team members. The most ideal people are those with technical and relational skills, including the following:

  • Ability to lead a team
  • Manage stakeholders
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Motivate others
  • Communicate effectively
  • Collaborate productively

Finding people who possess the right combination of technical and relational skills is no small feat at any level of an organisation. However with the right training, talent can be developed, skills gaps can be filled and people can be transformed into effective project team members.

Line of business leaders can also provide structure by establishing clearly defined roles and responsibilities and reporting relationships.

So also will making a clear connection for all team members between what they are doing and how their work supports the organisation’s overall strategy, particularly at the kick-off as well as every time the team hits a new milestone in the project plan.

Finally poor communication is one of those issues that is very often the reason projects don’t go according to plan. Communication is important because it allows team members to make a connection between what they are doing and the overall success of the organisation.

It is also essential to create a culture where team members feel enabled and empowered to raise issues.  As part of that, culture team members should feel responsible to support each other’s goals and mistakes should be seen as opportunities to learn from, rather than something to fear.

Early on in any project it is important to establish and communicate clear processes to the team in order to give added clarity.

By knowing where they fit in the organisation’s overarching business strategy, project members will feel a greater level of commitment and accomplishment. They will also be much more willing to speak up when issues or challenges arise during the project.

Communication needs to happen in both formal and informal settings from the top down and the bottom up.

Communication also needs reinforcing with the clearly established project goal that is tracked on a regular basis. That way, as major milestones are completed, the team’s confidence on its ability to achieve business targets will rise.

Pinpointing exactly where your teams are running into trouble is often easier said than done. However, assessments and evaluations – whether done formally or informally – can help you uncover issues before they become too serious. The trick is making sure you don’t wait until it’s too late to get the help that you need.

For more on the key areas line of business leaders need to focus on, in order to empower and upskill their teams, read Are People and Projects Inhibiting Success fro Your Line-of-Business?

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About Rebecca Leitch

Rebecca Leitch
Rebecca Leitch is a marketeer at TwentyEighty Strategy Execution - focused on bringing new project management content for the PM community.

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