It used to be a joke that if you had a job title change to ‘Special Projects’ you were headed out the back door of your employment. Maybe the joke still lives. However, I have met plenty of very talented problem solvers having a job title the same or similar to ‘Special Projects.’
This tactic requires a bit of a mind shift on the part of some leaders and managers who are wedded to the traditional job description without flexibility. It is time to re-consider how we structure work in our organisations to enable people to more fully utilise their skills, creativity, problem solving and decision making. How do we do this? Projects.
Projects is a big word with a huge spectrum of complexity. For the purposes of this tactic you can control the size, scale and complexity of projects based on your organisation and the people you have on your team. I like this definition of ‘project’ I found when I ‘Googled’ the word,
‘an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.’
People at all levels of your organisation can work on a project basis. My clients have struggled at times to structure a position into a project framework. This problem is commonly encountered with jobs involving repetition and reactive work; office administration, personal assistants, reception, manufacturing, warehousing etc. For these types of positions, I recommend looking at option 3 in the list below.
The entire job description is documented as projects –
- Full project descriptions, plans and resources
- Project titles/outcomes are included in the position description and the employee creates the project plan and resources
- Projects are added to the job description based on current skills or skills that are to be developed.
I have included a short list of some of the attributes and benefits to an organisation and its people when the project framework is applied to job descriptions.
- Provides a sense of personal responsibility to be accountable for project outcomes.
- Projects can enable employees in repetitious and/or reactive positions to have a ‘release valve’ to tap into their interests and develop their skills. This is definitely a boredom prevention strategy.
- There is less risk of ‘task’ and ‘focus’ drift with defined tasks, milestones and completion dates.
- Projects are conducive to manager – employee collaboration to address performance hurdles, roadblocks, training needs and other important relationship building interactivity between managers, supervisors and team members.
- Project methodology leaves less room for vagaries in an individual’s or team’s performance.
- Successful execution of projects creates positive momentum in a person’s career and often contributes to a greater sense of meaning about their work.
This tactic can be implemented in a pilot roll out for selected positions within your organisation or for new inductees. By implementing as a pilot you can devote some time to testing and evaluating new work flows, reporting and performance systems. The manager and supervisors impacted by this pilot will likely require some training and coaching to facilitate and support these changes.
If you have the opportunity you should check in with your ‘C’ level and/or senior management to learn how they structure their work. You should find that they are all outcomes focused and often their work plans are very close to project methodology. If this is the case you have a golden opportunity to garner support for this and other engagement tactics.
Would you like to explore this tactic in more detail? Get in touch and we can help you get a plan together.