How To Build a Culture of Getting Things Done

Business alignment and project managementIt’s much easier to get things done on your own than trying to align a team of people. The reality is that people do not enjoy being micromanaged and most people don’t want to have to follow up.

So what is required when you need everyone on the same page and executing?

I have worked with many organizations and have found that culture is critical. Building the culture of expectations and execution does take time. It relies heavily on the commitment of your leadership and the talent that you have on your team.

But here are some things to focus on and ensure you integrate to build that get it done culture.

Make It About Leadership

One of the mistakes I see is trying to train everyone to collaborate and drive horizontal communications. This can be a beautiful picture in the mind, but in reality, people do better with change by following a strong leader.

Vertical accountability is much more efficient. Have a person that manages the project and drives everyone. Make them the center point of communications. Everyone should feel like they have to update this person. In turn, the project leader needs to have extreme vigilance. They should follow up with every task and ensure every to-do item is captured. They don’t have to be overbearing. They do need to set the tone that they are keeping accountability and expect results.

Over time, the dynamics will shift with the team as behaviors and expectations get rooted.

Keep It Minimal

It’s very easy to make simple things complicated. That’s what most dysfunctional teams and people do. If you are half committed to an idea, then don’t make it a project. If you have lost enthusiasm, then get rid of the project. Holding onto good things at the cost of the best things is a mistake you pay dearly for in lost time and opportunity.

This means seeking to trim the fat continually and ensuring what is live in your project system matters. That question is continually floating with changing realities and priorities.

Drive to Closure

The goal of a task is to get completed. The goal of a project is to close.

The project leader should be driving vigorously towards closing tasks and projects. This may mean communicating with the task owners whether they will deliver or get rid of it altogether.

Always Define the Next Step

“What is the next step?” should be a mantra your project manager is always asking. Then it needs to be captured as a specific task starting with a verb.

Create report on sales pipeline for next three months.

Develop new solution for project management process.

The important thing is to be concrete and eliminate the thinking for executing. You are setting up the task and avoiding any misunderstanding. This is a clean handoff and avoids ambiguity. A great project leader is able to continually translate concepts and ideas into concrete action.

It’s About Leadership

Ultimately, building a culture of getting things done is about leadership. It first starts with a strong, clear leader that helps others lead themselves over time. It beats training and trying to get people to collaborate too early.

Instead, you are inducing behaviors over time and reinforcing positive actions.

This comes from a guy who has managed thousands of projects and has seen what has or has not worked. There are plenty of great tools and systems out there. Ultimately, the people, culture and leadership will be the larger weighting factors to long-term success.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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