You’ve been put in charge of a major project at work, and you know that many potential pitfalls stand between you and its success. If you can anticipate them, you’ll be better able to get the job done—and show people that you can be trusted with responsibility and authority. Here’s what to do:
- Get real support from the top. For every major project, some people and departments will be reluctant to share information or change how they do things. Before you get started, make sure upper management is behind you. If you sense that they’re not really committed to the project, slow down and find out what kind of initiative they would be more enthusiastic about.
- Gather input from all relevant stakeholders. No one likes to be uprooted or shoved around without consent, and a project that calls for major change will run into problems if the people involved feel like you haven’t taken their needs into account. Remember to address the interests of three major groups: the people who will implement the plan, everyone who will be affected by it, and those who have to pay for it.
- Decide on details up front. You’ll bog down quickly if you’re constantly changing the specs of a project. People won’t act with urgency if they don’t know exactly what they’re trying to do and how. Your input from stakeholders will help you define the project’s requirements.
- Keep expectations realistic. Tell people how your initiative will benefit them, but don’t oversell it. Let them know as accurately as possible what the project will accomplish and when, but caution them not to expect the sun, moon, and stars on the first day it’s implemented.