Follow Through

You would think that, if someone assigns a project to an employee, that leader would want to follow through and ensure it actually gets done. But that’s not always the case. Too often, projects seem to fall through the cracks.

But you and your employees are only successful if your projects are completed. If you start something, see it through to the end. Now, “the end” could be the accomplishment of what you set out to do, or it might be the termination of that project somewhere along the way, but however it turns out, don’t leave your employees hanging.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for projects to get started, but then not advance. Sometimes you start getting into it, but then the resources you need are not available. It helps to have a defined budget and know in advance what you will need. In some cases, you might have the financial or material resources, but that most slippery of resources — time — is not available because you just have too much going on. You need to have a reasonable estimate of what the project requires and your own capabilities before taking on something new. If there is a lot going on, you as the leader might not have the time to follow up on what your employees are doing, and they might interpret this as a lack of interest, subsequently deciding not to worry too much about this since you’re obviously not. So, even if you cannot spend a lot of time watching things, at least check in every now and then so your employees know they should continue. Finally, your folks may have trouble getting started because of some challenge at the beginning, and if they never get going the project is likely to die pretty quickly. Do not just assign something and then turn away; make sure it gets going and builds a little momentum.

You will find, on occasion, that you start something, only to have to stop it along the way. Not every project your people start is going to make it through to successful completion. For instance, if you find you have taken on too much, you may have to kill a lower priority project, or at least put it on hold until you can put real effort into it. You might also find that you just do not have the resources, or maybe the technology you need is not mature enough. If so, then stop until you can do it later (if you can). And of course, if you are working for a client, they just might change their mind and ask you to cancel. Regardless of why you might have to quit something, it is important to clearly terminate the project, making sure everyone knows it has stopped, so you don’t have people working on it when they are no longer supposed to.

Your resources are finite, particularly time, so you need to use them wisely. Finish those projects that should be finished, cancel those that need to stop. Do not just pause somewhere in the middle. Make sure your employees know what is expected of them and help them follow through to the end, one way or another.

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