woman holding sign saying 'give thanks'
PHOTO: Simon Maage

Stop me if this sounds familiar: cost overruns and missed deadlines have left you feeling overwhelmed. It seems like everyone has let you down: executives won’t commit to the necessary resources, your peers withhold information and delay releases which impact everyone in the business and your team feels demoralized by their lack of success.

We’ve all experienced these challenges at one point or another.  The key is to uncover the learning opportunities in every challenge and work through these productively and positively by engaging everyone — at every level — more effectively.

1. Better Meetings Build Stronger Connections

Let’s start with your connections with executives.

By building stronger connections with executives, it will be easier for you to get the facts on the table, provide the context they need to grasp challenges and the incentive for them to go to bat for you — so they won’t take no for an answer when resources get allocated.

Building these connections isn’t rocket science. The key is to make every interaction, meeting and discussion more meaningful and productive. Meetings are a common source of complaints within the workplace, so whenever you organize or attend a meeting, be sure to have:

  • A clear purpose for holding it.
  • Clear objectives and outcomes in mind.
  • A clear agenda.
  • A thoughtful invitation so only the necessary people attend.

Before you end every meeting, review each deliverable and specify:

  • Who will accomplish it.
  • When you expect it accomplished and, most importantly,
  • How will these milestones be reported? 

Well-established metrics, timeframes and meaningful reporting with dashboards can obviate the need for most meetings. You can also cut down on meeting length and frequency by only addressing exceptions, and not delivering unorganized verbal reports.

When you invite others to meetings without these clear components provided in advance and without a firm start and end time, you are being disrespectful to everyone. By following these simple practices, your meetings will be exponentially more productive.  

Related Article: Are You Sure You Want to Schedule Another Meeting?

2. Take Charge of Your Day

When you feel overwhelmed, you effectively shut down any progress you had been making. While it may be justifiable to feel overwhelmed, especially with so many agendas and the increasing pace of change, it is a confidence killer and ruins connections. 

The solution to this problem is so simple you will laugh out loud: do a daily brain-dump of all of your tasks and then monitor and edit this to-do list throughout the day. 

Your list should include not just the high-level projects you are driving but also your family, community and personal commitments too. Why should it be so broad? Because you are a whole person. If you don’t give focus and attention to your personal life, it won’t be long before you find you don’t have a personal life.

Equally important is to break down every project into the necessary tasks. Try not to list something like “conduct testing on new storage system.” Instead, list the next three to five key tasks needed to move the system to completion so testing can be done.

Completing this brain-dump daily minimizes the risk we will slip into denial or even become delusional about our challenges. Staying focused on the facts allows us to drive results.

Related Article: How to Avoid 6 Common Digital Workplace Communications Problems

3. Celebrate Team Successes

The final habit to form is to regularly engage your team in more meaningful ways so they feel energized and excited to drive their projects to successful completion. The key to creating this kind of team environment is to celebrate the successes. At The Halpin Companies we call these exercises, Acknowledgments. 

Acknowledgments are different from compliments, in that compliments are often based on opinions, making them easy to dismiss, while acknowledgements focus on accomplishments with proven results. When you acknowledge someone’s accomplishments and tell them how their results have made a difference for you or a customer, it makes it very difficult for others to negate their own accomplishment. 

The desire to feel validated and appreciated is a basic human need.  When we give each other these gifts of feeling appreciated we build trust, mutual respect, confidence and camaraderie. 

With these kinds of connections with your colleagues at work, it will be easy to drive results on time and on budget.

More importantly, these three simple, practical approaches will put you in the driver’s seat and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.