I love hearing about an organization's history and journey. About how they started, how they grew and the lessons that came along the way. In business, it's so true that where we start isn't always where we end up.
However, when I talk to those same organizations about projects they want to take on, there is always this perception that they need to start big. Take a recent conversation I had with a client of mine who was considering starting performance reviews. The CEO said that she wanted employees to receive more consistent feedback from their managers. The CFO said that the reviews had to be tied to compensation reviews. HR said they needed a performance management system to track it all.
When we looked at what existed within the organization, however, the reality was that none of these things existed today - not even close. Employees were already using multiple systems to do their job, and those systems weren't working well. Employees and managers weren't meeting on a consistent basis. In fact, communication was an area where employees felt was one of the biggest opportunities for improvement.
Sometimes when we want to start something, we think we have to do everything "the right way" or perfectly. However, starting small can actually be a more effective and successful way to implement a project. Similar to when an organization first gets their start, it's better to focus on creating an environment where growth is the priority instead of the false idea of getting everything perfect. In your next project, consider keeping the following in mind:
Focus on solving only one or two things. It's great to think about all the things your project could accomplish, but make sure you get laser focused by asking yourself why do you want to start this project in the first place? And what are you trying to solve for? Don't overwhelm yourself with everything you could do. Create clarity on the one to two things you need to do.
Address the needs of your employees. Successful companies and products address the needs of their customer. In the same regard, internal efforts should also address the needs of employees. But how many times have you started an effort without asking your employees what they need? Those needs should be at the center of any organization's internal processes.
Create the space for open feedback. Don't assume you have all the answers as you move forward in the process. Ensure you're gathering feedback before, during, and after your project. Focus groups, surveys, or just simply asking "what's one thing you would do differently?" can be quick and effective ways to get input you need.
Adjust quickly to grow. Ensure you take the feedback you receive and apply it quickly. Don't wait until next year to make changes. Applying the feedback allows you to improve your project, as well as show your employees that it is easy to do business with you.
Commit to the long haul. Nobody likes it when initiatives are started with lots of energy, only to be tucked away on a shelf and slowly forgotten. Create small and large goals to ensure you're on track, but also that you see the new project through.
Effective businesses aren't successful overnight. Rather, they grow over time through several iterations. Small steps and changes can make big impacts when starting a new project. Think small to ensure your next project is a huge success.