Big projects can strain and stress even the closest team, and in my industry, big projects are pretty much the only kind we're given. Taking my crew through one after another has taught me a lot about the kind of tactics and strategies necessary to make it to the other side.
Here are five ways I make big projects easier on my team.
Develop a System and Stick to It
Big projects can be complicated. Early on, I liked to experiment with different approaches with each new account we took on. For some projects, I would dedicate more time for planning or set up meetings in a different way, or change what counted as a goal post. I liked this strategy, but it ended up being hard on my employees, and led to confusion instead of the adaptability that I wanted. I now recommend using a different approach.
When tackling large projects, you should guide your employees with a strong system. You want everyone to know their marching orders, and what to expect from the schedule for the next few months after a project begins. This approach makes onboarding easier, as older employees can teach newer ones when the same approach is in place from project to project.
Help Each Employee Understand Their Place in the Plan
Big projects can be intimidating. Make your team members feel more confident about their work by taking the time to identify where everyone belongs from the beginning. Make sure that your employees understand how their duties will change as they move from step to step. This can make a big project feel like a far smaller one.
Set Up Goal Posts and Celebrate Them
When big projects last for months at a time, that exhaustion can start to affect your office. I like to release the pressure a little bit by cutting the project into goal posts that we have a right to be proud of when we come to them. I make sure that we take some time to celebrate each one.
Celebrating each goal post doesn't just give your employees the chance to pat themselves on the back for what they achieved. It reminds them that the project is coming to an end. Both of these perks can reduce the stress that builds up.
Be Aggressive About Delegating Responsibility
Big projects can be overwhelming. Most of my advice is about making this ordeal easier on your employees, but it's also important to consider your own health and sanity. To handle a big project, you need to be aggressive about delegating responsibility so that it doesn't crush you.
It's important to focus on delegating out all the responsibility as fairly as possible. Don't make one employee shoulder too much. You may find that some of your people step up during the most stressful stages of the project. When that happens, it's important to be aggressive about assigning responsibility to reduce their stress. I regularly hand out new duties and responsibilities during projects when it's clear that the employee can handle it.
Decompress After Every Big Project
I never jump from one project to the next without giving my employees some time to relax. An employee trip is a good treat after everyone has put months of work into make something happen. If not, simply being more flexible with hours and vacations does the job.
Matt Doyle is the Vice President and Co-Founder of Excel Builders, a revolutionary company in the construction industry that builds next-generation custom homes.