The end is in sight, deliverables have been approved, the team is starting to eye their next assignments, and your sponsor is likely breathing a huge sigh of relief.
But before you shut the door and move on to your next gig, here are three questions to reflect upon.
If we did not deliver the expected business outcomes, what could I have done different?
Projects fail to achieve their original expectations for a variety of reasons, many of which are outside of the control of the project team. But just because external factors or shortfalls from team members or other stakeholders might have been key contributing factors doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do some soul-searching to envision what might have been if we had taken a different course of action.
This reflection should happen frequently over the life of a project. Waiting till the end of a project to consider our own performance means we’ve likely missed some important learnings, but this final reflection provides the opportunity to consolidate the micro-lessons into one or two key calls for personal action.
Would I have wanted to work with me?
This second question moves us from the “what” to the “how”. The project may have been deemed a success by our customers, but do we have evidence to prove that team members or stakeholders enjoyed the journey? If not, was that related to how we treated them, especially when the going got tough?
Our ability to forge and grow positive relationships is the secret sauce towards our success as project managers, and if we left bruised egos and morale issues in our wake, we’ve lost the long game.
Did I further any of my personal goals through my work on this project?
We don’t manage projects just to get paid well or to have a fancy title. Many professions pay better and provide more glory if that is all we wish to achieve.
What higher purpose of ours did we progress through the project, and if the answer is “nothing”, isn’t that reason enough to question our choices? Perhaps this is an opportunity to identify specific outcomes that are aligned with our long term aspirations which we’d like to achieve in our next project.
Introspection will establish your personal continuous improvement from one project to the next.