Learning & Development

Finishing Projects: Tips to Help Procrastinators

Every project has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That statement may seem obvious, and it is. But it’s one thing to note those stages and another to ensure they are all carried out with the same level of commitment and diligence.finish

Within any organization, one will find employees who have varying levels of aptitude or commitment to the different stages of a project. Some people are great at managing a project from start to finish, but these are often the exception.

Some might find it difficult to get started or simply to get the proper motivation to get going. Others struggle to connect the dots from the beginning to the finished product and get bogged down in the middle.

In this post, we discuss a third category: those who have trouble crossing the finish line. Here are a few tips and strategies to help those who struggle to finish their projects.

Understand the Underlying Issues

There are many reasons an employee might struggle to complete projects. Understanding what those issues are is often the first step in resolving the problem.

In an article for Fast Company, Jane Porter looks at some of the most common reasons people procrastinate, including fear of failing to impress, fear of setting the bar too high, and simply not wanting a project to be over. Other common reasons include the desire or operational need to move on to a new project and changing priorities, among others.

Require Formal Sign-Off

Managers should consider placing objective requirements on the declaration of a completed project—for example, the submission of a summary report, a lessons learned meeting, etc.

This not only sets clear expectations for specific tasks that need to be completed but also adds some visibility to the wrap-up process. It’s a formal way of declaring “this project is complete.”

Finish Before Moving On

Although this is not always practical in fast-moving work environments, managers should consider requiring employees or teams to complete (as determined by objective exit criteria, as discussed above) one project before moving on to another.

Those who struggle to finish will be forced to do what it takes to move on or risk being seen as unproductive because of being stuck on a single project while others continue to progress on new assignments.

Effectively finishing projects often boils down to tying up a few loose ends, but those loose ends can mean the difference between a stellar finished product and an embarrassing, sloppy flop.

Nobody wants to do all the work on a project and then not finish it effectively. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the reasons employees often fail to finish and to put in place strategies to help them make it the last mile.

What steps could you put in place to help employees cross the finish line?