Project Management

istock_000000915694small.jpgIt’s what and how you say it.


 Feedback matters. And it’s not just an annual event. Regular, candid and honest feedback is a key way to help team members on your project to get better at what they do.

So, what’s the best feedback model, process or framework to use? Well, there’s hundreds to choose from. And I sometimes feel I’ve tried most of them in my research! Still, I always come back a simple and straightforward model.

Try these four steps next time you need to offer feedback.

Step 1:  Start by asking “What did you do well?”

(eg. “Kim, what do you feel you did well in your last sales call?”)


Starting on a positive note eases the conversation into feedback. Plus it identifies things the learner should keep doing.

Step 2: “What could you do differently?”

(eg. “Kim, what could you do differently if you did that sales call again?”)

This allows the learner to examine their own performance. It uses positive language – it focuses on improvement rather than criticism. Quite often the learner may identify all improvement opportunities without comment from you, or may identify opportunities that you haven’t seen.

Step 3: Then provide your feedback points by starting with “What could be done differently is….”

(eg. Thanks Kim for those points. What I think you could differently in the sales call is to ask more probing questions to fully understand the customer’s needs…”)

Again, this approach uses positive language and focuses on improvement rather than criticism. It gives you the opportunity to confirm the learner’s views and to identify areas of improvement that the learner hasn’t seen.

Step 4: Finally finish with “What you did well…”

(eg. “Kim, what you did well was to open your call with a concise overview and benefit statement, before asking the customer’s permission to continue. That worked very effectively”)

In this closing statement, you identify things the learner should keep doing. You can provide praise and finish on a high note. Effective feedback delivered in the right way and at the right time is an excellent tool to develop the performance of your team members. Keep it regular, concise and timely for best effect. The four step model works well in any context – work or personal.  



What are the key elements of successful projects?  

These are some ideas that I’ve seen work well.

Successful projects have:

1. An urgent and compelling objective

The project’s purpose, objective and frameworks are clearly defined. There is a sense of urgency, a timeframe to get things done and a compelling reason for doing it the project. All up, your efforts in delivering the project will make a difference to the company.

2. Alignment with business direction

The project supports the company’s business strategy. Its goals and outputs are aligned to the overall business direction and designed to further build the company’s performance.

3. A first goal that’s achievable in a short period

The project has a series of goals with detailed success measures, with the first goal achievable in a short timeframe – weeks rather then months. Long duration projects have a number of goals that can be progressively achieved and celebrated. 

4. A bottom-line result

Every project needs to either make the company some money or save the company some money. Its debits and credits. If you sink your time and effort, plus the company’s resources, into a project you need a discrete and defined return on that investment.
Successful projects have clear bottom-line results, so always establish (and promote) how your project delivers value.

5. The right people with the right skills

Projects are primarily delivered through people. Systems, processes and technology are secondary elements. Take the time to get your team’s style and skills mix right. Set clear accountabilities and regularly measure performance against them.

6. A clear and effective implementation process

Implementation and execution is the downfall for many projects. Many great efforts fail to make it over the line through lack of a rigourous implementation and change management process for introducing the project’s initiatives. Take the time to get the people and change stuff right – it’s what matters the most. Plan, communicate, direct, and manage all change.

7. A next step

A successful project creates change, builds performance and presents further opportunities. While the project has a defined end date and success criteria, its through accomplishing the project milestones that further steps are identified and planned for future projects