Tip: Prep yourself emotionally for project kick-offs.
You may have the print outs, gantt charts, budget forecasts and assets ready but that’s not all it takes to prepare yourself and your team for a new project to commence. It’s taken me a while to realize that high levels of stress during the beginning phase of a project is rooted in not preparing myself ‘mentally’ for a new project. It may sound corny, but everyone needs a to hit the refresh button on their confidence levels from time to time.
When the curtain opens
A project kick off, can easily be underestimated. Get the team together, share the basics, talk about what needs to get done and GO. That’s definitely your stepping stone to series of failures to come across the lifespan of your project. From team chemistry, to communication and overall commitment.
You want to kick off of a project similar to team kick off:
- Gather the entire team
- Talk about the project
- Talk about what the team wants out this project: expectations, milestones etc.
- Get a whiteboard and write everyones names on it and key project details (doodling allowed too!)
This makes the meeting more of a facilitation training vs presenting. With facilitation and making things a bit more personable you create a safe environment for your project and team.
Ideally, I’d like to also structure a conversation on the following:
- List out what the team wants
- List out any fears, uncovering things they are afraid of (more like risks)
- List out expectations; mine and teams’ (workstyle, communication styles etc.)
- Talk about roles. If any conflict or overlap, make it clear
- Goals. Project and personal goals (adding a piece to my portfolio, thought leadership, company goal etc.)
Behind the Scenes
1. Be a good leader and follower
Creative and effective leadership in design environments calls for emotional literacy and intelligence. A project lead needs to have the ability to listen to others and also express themselves. This behavior affects relationships and facilitates communication.
Project lead criteria:
c. Social awareness
d. Relationship management
2. Helping relieve someone from an idea they are attached to (aka how to properly kill an idea) vs Helping pushing an idea forward
3. Awareness of others and how the team works.
4. Ask questions vs being directive.
5. Adjust attitude and team conflict.
During the project’s entire lifespan
Know yourself. Know and understand your emotional landscape. Work out your own shit so you can be a great leader to others.
Be in touch with the fears inside you. Fear gets triggered a lot in our society. Before walking into a meeting, listen to yourself and deal with fears. Bring less baggage to the table.
Classic example: The fear that I’m not a good PM. That’s a valid dear to have, I’m sure there is a trigger to that thought, but for the time being, you have to put it aside and walk into your meeting with confidence and later evaluate the root of your fear.
Sarah B. Nelson, once summarized the key emotional states you need to put aside while at work: HALT
Hungry. Angry. Tired. Lonely
Take care as many as you can before going into a meeting (please).
Key takeaway: Always work on checks & balances of the emotional state of your teams and project.
Under: Emotional literacy and intelligence for creative and effective leadership in design environments