how to lead a project when you come in mid-stream

If you’re a new manager or team lead, you might find yourself charged with leading work that’s already well in progress. How do you jump in and learn what you need to know in order to effectively drive it forward?

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about three keys to successfully leading a project when you come in mid-stream. You can read it here.

{ 5 comments… read them below }

  1. PizzaSquared

    The challenge I’m currently facing is not only coming in mid-stream, but coming in near the end, and the thing is so far off track I’m not sure how to correct it. Not fun.

    1. A Jane

      Has there been “a come to reality moment” yet with the stakeholders? Lay out where the project stands in reality and ask for project guidance.

    2. Monika

      What A Jane said…
      With a proper documentation and all important stakeholders aware of the problems your behind is covered.
      Sometimes the best and cheapest solution is to end the project and to start all over.

    3. Ann O'Nemity

      I’ve found it helpful to meet with team, client, vendor, etc and say something like, “I’ve just been assigned to this project and my goal is to get this finished as quickly and cleanly as possible. From what I understand, here’s where we are. And here’s the final deliverables we need to meet. What can I do to move us forward?”

      And then just sit back and listen. 99% of the time, folks will not blame me for past mistakes and will instead focus on what needs to happen to finish the project as soon as possible.

  2. MohamedMohamoud

    Informing the key stakeholders is crucial!

    I would also try to understand what I can do to recover the project and get it back on track. I would then suggest this to the stakeholders. Also, if you are in touch with people that were on the project from the beginning use them to get up to speed quicker. Do not be afraid of looking like a fool… Read all the important documents that relate to the project and prepare yourself for long hours! I would prioritise like this:
    A. Good overview of the project
    B. Understand my role and the stakeholder expectations (deadlines, milestones, financial figures, specific tasks to complete)
    C. Get to know:
    The team members and their roles
    customers
    partners
    suppliers
    the product or service that we provide

    C. Pitfalls and serious issues on the horizon, options for mitigation. Courageously express these, showing that you are thinking of the mitigation too, not just spotting problems (‘complaining’ in other words)

    On a well-being note, from a physical and emotional perspective: Eat well, rest well (don’t think about work in your bed), take regular breaks during work and talk to someone supportive.

    I am pretty sure this is too late for the original poster, but I hope this is useful to someone!

    Best of luck!

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