March 27th, 2014
I’m the first to say that managing a team during a launch can be tough. Like the toughest part of the launch sometimes.
But get past all the personal quirks people have, the time zones, the response (or lack of) and there’s really only one thing you as the team leader need to do…
Stay on top of the team – know what everyone’s doing – and shuffle work if needed to people who can work or respond faster.
There’s often no time for blame or excuses. There’s only the mountain of work that needs to get done.
Today's guest post is another from ace project manager + course creator Karen Sargeant… She really knows how to handle a team. She’s down to earth, practical, smart, organized, and realistic.
I'm excited for you to read her team management tips – and how this comes into play especially during a launch.
Teams make launching so much better: doubling the fun and halving the stress.
That’s certainly the whole point of hiring one, but we’ve all heard stories of owners holding all-night marathons to upload videos the night before they go live, or unhappily double-checking inboxes with unopened mail, and…and worse.
How does this happen? Well, check that. How do you prevent this from happening to you!?
There are two common ways a launch can go off the rails during crunch-time.
And the fix?
The fix happens before the launch even starts.
Here are two things you MUST do with your team to have a smooth launch.
1. Communicate what done looks like.
The project's Task List is the block-and-tackle of launch management, but I’ve seen a number of launches that essentially don’t have one.
Sometimes entrepreneurs are resistant to creating such a document: I’m too right-brained! or I just want to feel my way through this or they know that it would be good for them, but it’s daunting to imagine creating the beast.
Maybe you can get away with this if you’re by yourself or have a tiny team. But with more than two people, or — and this is important — if you want your team members to own their area of expertise and be truly collaborative with you during the launch, you must allow them to know where they’re headed.
So, how do you get it done? It’s can be a big task, but like any elephant you eat it one bite at a time:
Write down the big categories (marketing, membership site, course content, etc), the main deadline, and the budget.
One by one, work through the categories to break them down. Put in deadlines & mark dependencies (we have to get this done before that).
Mark who is responsible for completing what.
Put it into software.
2. Get a reality check from your team before you start.
Two constant bugaboos during launches are team members' AVAILABILITY and RESPONSE TIMES for tasks. Whether you are your team member’s only client or not, she has other things on her plate that compete with your project.
You MUST have an accurate understanding of daily/weekly availability and a common understanding of response time.
In my experience, most conversations around availability and response time are too abstract. I have learned the hard way that “20 hours a week” can only be the beginning of the discussion, not its end-point.
Show them the Task List with deadlines, tell them your expectations for daily/weekly check-ins and progress, inform them of the project consequences for slipped dates, and have a constructive conversation about whether this is a great fit or not.
Make adjustments to either the project – or the team members – accordingly!
Once you’ve had this discussion, here’s how to make the most of it:
Assign out a workload that’s appropriate to the availability. You cannot assume Superhero efficiency, or that things won’t require revisions before approval.
Assign tasks WELL AHEAD of their due-dates so team members have maximum flexibility to complete the work at their own pace and schedule. (See? This is where a comprehensive Task List will pay dividends!)
When Murphy & His Law rears his ugly head during launch, you’ll already have informed, realistic expectations of whether a team member can respond. Sometimes they can, and sometimes the project timeline (or budget, or objectives) must be adjusted.
3. Use shared tools to keep everyone on the same schedule and referencing the same list of tasks.
Better to watch this video to make sure you know how to use my favorite tool (but really any tool) to keep your team on top of your launch….
There’s a theme here: Manage Expectations. On both sides.
Usually nobody needs convincing of the concept, but there are many times the “Are We a Good Fit Together?” conversation lacks the specificity to do much good once the project heats up.
If you follow the advice above, your conversations will set the foundation for smoother sailing throughout the launch.
And isn’t that what you hired that team for, anyways?
Whoa – for real. That’s what I kept saying as I reviewed this post. Now it’s your turn. Have you ever had a challenge launch team experience? Share it below!
Karen Sergeant helps small business owners create exceptional, head-turning courses that delight their customers & grow their bottom lines. She’s a project manager by birth and temperament, and has managed projects everywhere from Silicon Valley to Afghanistan. She vastly prefers her current location & can be found (literally and virtually) at The Sunny Patio Project.
Ready to turn your idea into a course? Click to see Karen’s free Getting Started Resource Page for the best articles to move you forward.