You Finished your Project, Now What?

Adjusting to a new Project after closing out the last one is a transition period that we should not take lightly. Managed properly this can be a very healthy transition period that can refresh you to be back at your top for your next assignment. What have you done between assignments in the past? Do you remember what worked and what did not work? 

You should be ready to manager yourself effectively and with peace of mind during this transitional period that can vary from just a couple of days to some weeks. 

Share the Experience – Once the last paperwork tasks are completed, take some time both personally and with your team to reflect on the lessons learned during the journey. What worked well? What did not work? What would you differently the next me? Register them in a format that can be accessed by other colleagues later. If the effort went well make sure you take time to celebrate: go out for dinner, send thank-you notes, do any victory rituals you like. A successful project does not happen by chance. It requires commitment, effort and skill from the team. So it is more than ok to celebrate it. Let your management know about it and take the time to recognize the team members for their contributions. If it is appropriate then provide recommendations for them or remind them to update their resumes with the information about the effort. 

Plan Ahead – Most efforts usually experience a point of no return when all the activities on the critical path are complete and what remains are secondary or administrative tasks. Sense of urgency from stakeholders may decrease, resources may start to be pulled away, etc. So as soon as this process starts, do a review to understand what is still open, how much time it will require and who will be covering it. Ensure that everyone is aligned on this later stage. At the same time this is a good time to let management know that you entered the close phase and start discussing with your management on next assignments for you and your team. 

Enjoy the cool-down – some of us tend to feel bad when we have some time to spare. We just perform better when we experience pressure and urgency on our work. If you did your job when things were difficult and demanding, it is ok if the balance switches towards the other side. This is a good time to tackle things that you could not do when the heat was on, like devoting additional time to training, maybe get ready for a certification, learn a new tool or skill, and why not, some vacation time with family. 

Move On. I mean it. – Every Project is different and we should adapt to its particular circumstances. We do not always have the chance to influence our next assignment. This is particularly challenging if you happen to move from a Prime Time effort in everyone’s radar to a less appealing or troubled assignment. It is useful to focus on committing to your work and find opportunities to add value. If you tackled successfully the last Project then you can work to make the current a success to. No excuses. So let it go for good and demonstrate that the reason for success is your contribution, and that this is a constant. 

Till next week, 

- Sergio Calvo.

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