Does Your Team Lack Accountability? - Learn How To Plan And Organize Work

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As a leader, flawlessly executing a project requires strong planning and organizing skills on your part. Having a clear sense of who will do what and the resources they will need to do their work is critical for your success. Planning and organizing well enables you to effectively coordinate the efforts of multiple people and helps to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them.

Planning and organizing work means determining the resources needed to accomplish a given objective and planning who will do what by when. In our extensive research and testing of nearly 800 executives for my bestselling book THE LEADER HABIT, my team and I discovered the micro-behaviors that effective leaders do when they plan and organize work. They:

  1. Create a master project plan that specifies who will do what by when. 

  2. Identify the resources that will be needed during each phase of the plan, be they people, money, or materials. 

  3. Think creatively about how to use the available resources to stay within budget. 

  4. Put in place systems to track progress of individual contributors and teams, usually in the form of metrics and periodic check-ins.

Once you understand that these behaviors are the key to planning and organizing work, you will need to internalize them for yourself, turning them into habits. Based on our finding that it takes 66 days to turn a behavior into a habit, we have created four simple exercises that will help you improve your ability to plan and organize work. They are:

Exercise #1: Create a project plan.

Although you may not put together a full project plan every day, you can use this exercise to get in the habit of identifying tasks and setting deadlines: After discussing a project or task with a coworker, identify one action item with a deadline by asking, “What exactly will you do and when will you complete it?” Write it down. For example, your coworker commits to drafting a new product brochure by September 20.

Exercise #2: Identify the resources you need.

This micro-behavior requires thinking about who or what you will need to complete a task. Use the following exercise to turn it into a habit: After starting a task, write down two or three resources (people, money, materials) you need to get it done. For example, if your task is to prepare a contract for a new client, you need someone from your legal team, the contract template, and your computer.

Exercise #3: Use available resources creatively.

You can get in the habit of thinking creatively about using the resources you already have rather than wasting money on resources you think you need by practicing this exercise: After you realize that you need a resource you don’t currently have, ask yourself, “How can I use something I already have to achieve the same outcome?” Write down your answer. For example, you could do a quick Internet search to learn how to create pivot tables in Excel rather than calling your IT help desk.

Exercise #4: Track progress with metrics.

Get in the habit of tracking your own progress by practicing this exercise at the end of your workday: After finishing your last task of the day, go through your to-do list and write down what percentage of each task you have completed. For example, you may have completed 50 percent of your team meeting’s agenda and 25 percent of your department’s budget.

Planning and organizing skills are critical if you want to create accountability on your team and improve the efficiency of your company’s operations. When you assign clear tasks and deadlines, you ensure that employees understand the scope and timelines of their work. When you track employees’ progress with metrics and regular check-ins, you instill a sense of personal responsibility in each employee. Similarly, when you have a clear plan, you can better coordinate the efforts of your employees and teams, and so you cut out unnecessary productivity losses that result from faulty coordination. 

Ready to take the next step? Click the image below to download your complimentary 66-day skill worksheet.

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Archie Millard