How to Increase Project Performance
Some people say that starting a new project can feel like climbing a mountain or running a marathon. It’s a challenge that is going to require a lot of focus and effort. It can be done alone, but it’s more fun and more effective when completed with a team. When starting something new, how do you increase project performance?
When you work with full passion and focus, you may experience something called the peak flow or flow state. You may have experienced this peak flow state before. Everything comes together easily, and the barriers just fall away. Everything just clicks and the whole team feels like that are flying.
When you are in this state, time just seems to pass by effortlessly. The project doesn’t feel like work anymore and you don’t notice the time passing. You may have experienced this when doing something with such ease that it was almost enjoyable. Similar, if you were playing a game or watching a movie. When world-class athletes are in the flow state, their performance can be increased by 50%.
What is the Best Way to Increase Project Performance?
Every person on the team will move at a certain pace and cadence that is natural to them. It might be a sprint from one meeting to the next, or it might be an intense focus on quality. But every person has their own pace, so it is important for project leaders to understand what these are for each team member.
As projects become increasingly diverse and global, the need for combined team efforts becomes apparent. The combined team effort will change based on the individual conditions of the team members. To be successful in this type of environment, leaders need to develop a stronger understanding of their employees’ strengths and how they best work together.
While a team leader, you can have a huge impact on the progress of your team by setting the pace. The pace that you set can make all the difference in productivity, morale, and overall success. So, as a team leader, what is the best way to increase project performance?
Increase project performance by understanding your team
You can only move as fast as the slowest person
You can only move as fast as the slowest person
An important learning as a section commander in the military is that you can only move as fast as the slowest member of the team. They may still be able to get a lot of work done quickly. But as a leader, you need to be able to understand the pace of the team and anticipate where the next level of effort is necessary in advance.
In the US Army, there is a concept called sustainment. This is the ability to maintain your mission without breaking for rest and resupply. It’s about executing your mission with minimal interruption from operational tempo. The idea of sustainment is that you can overcome any temporary hindrance because you have worked at maintaining a pace of operation. You can also achieve an operational tempo state in a project as well.
When considering your project teams operational tempo, you will want to start off at a pace at which the team can demonstrate success. This may require advancing in some areas of project planning while creating space for other activities.
New projects can boost project performance
In my experience, every new project brings with it new team members. With a new team comes a new tempo. So, you can’t expect your new project team to move at the same pace as your last project team. Considering this, you should start with no preconceived notions or expectations. Let the new team dynamics unfold.
When I hear “my new team is moving too quickly,” I’m always concerned that the person is trying to control the pace of the project. You shouldn’t try to artificially slow down a project. you should allow it to unfold at its own pace and see what happens. When you intentionally slow down a project you run the risk of losing momentum, interest, and focus.
In general, there will be times when the project pace will slow down on its own. This is a natural reaction to a significant safety incident onsite. This can create a new hurdle that your team must overcome. However, this won’t be the first challenge the project faces. So, it’s a great opportunity to build the teams resilience.
Create conditions for increased project performance
It’s imperative for each person on the team to commit themselves fully and bring their passion and commitment. However, to help advance the team you want to guide the team to a string of early successes. Here are a few ways you can do just that.
You only learn teamwork from doing teamwork
You don’t learn how to work in a team in school. You learn that by doing teamwork. Working with your classmates, you’ll find out they’re not just people who have the same classes as you, but rather a friend and teammate. When you’re faced with a challenge, your classmates will be there to help you work through it together.
It takes time for a team to function properly, so be patient
Team members need time to establish trust with one another and to get used to the other person’s style. The time it takes for a team to click is much longer than people usually anticipate. For a team to function properly, employees need time and patience.
When a team reaches peek performance they may not stay there for long
Teams often reach peak performance when they first start working together. The team members will feel a sense of euphoria and excitement that will propel the team to work harder. This is called the honeymoon phase, which can last for about 3-4 weeks. Once this phase ends, teams may not stay at peak flow because of the decrease in novelty and challenge.
Create conditions for early multiple small wins
It is easier to build momentum and increase confidence when we have small wins. For example, if you are trying to create an exercise routine, it is usually more motivating if you start with one minute of exercise each day rather than 30 minutes. This can apply to any goal you may be working towards and by breaking the goal into smaller parts, it will seem more manageable.
We all have those days where we want to take it easy and do nothing. When this feeling occurs, we should fight the temptation to slow down and instead get moving. Intentionally slowing down on a project will only lead to the loss of momentum, interest and focus that was already established in the project.
It takes time for a team to function properly, even then it does not come easily. It takes time for a team to reach peak performance, but even then, ideas do not always work. It’s about the team’s ability to create something new together. How we listen, how we help and work together. Finding that teamwork and magic is not easy, but it is worth it.