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Heidi Tillmanns

3 Tips for Managing a Sign Project to Completion

If getting the job done relies on getting the most out of inexperienced employees, these strategies are for you.

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SOMETIMES I TAKE for granted all I have learned over the years serving in a leadership role within the sign industry. Over time, I came to instinctively glide through my day, delegating responsibilities, planning and scheduling when project managing. I forget that I once learned all this knowledge one task at a time. Yet I must stop myself from judging others who may not have all the information needed to complete a sign job that, for me, runs smoothly in my head.

Can you relate? Do you look at new hires and think, “What don’t you get?” The fact is, they don’t get it, and you as their project manager need to take time to teach them effectively. Here are a few strategies that can help achieve project success.

Share Your Plan

In your head, the steps all appear, no need to write them down or explain. You know what has to happen, so you just go. However, if you plan to grow your business with employees, your plans must be written down and discussed. Project planning is critical to improve the chances of achieving the desired results, on budget and on time. While planning, you must clarify roles and responsibilities, timelines and expectations. Using Gantt charts or an online application such as Monday will help you and your team communicate plans effectively.

Build Strong Relationships

When you engage your staff in project management conversations, you build rapport with all involved. This is the buy-in you need. You’ve hired staff to help you, so do not limit them to the tasks the job entails. Be open to new ideas. Yes, you may know exactly what needs to be done from years of doing it; however, you may be surprised to learn a new trick or two. If communications are honest and transparent, you will gain authentic feedback you may not know you needed.

Manage Risk

All projects have a variety of risks, and it is important to develop strategies that staff can take ownership of. Offer guidance on different scenarios and what to look for. Give experienced staff freedom to make decisions, especially ones out of your control. This will increase confidence in your employees and assure that buy-in previously mentioned.

With that said, not every risk should be assessed by employees. For some, the buck stops with you. You need to establish risk severity and its likelihood. These clear boundaries will facilitate a smoother workflow — with happier staff and clientele.

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Many online resources can assist you with project management techniques and risk-management navigation. I suggest creating lunch-and-learn opportunities or devoting a formal day of learning to these topics. Many outsourced human resources specialists offer such courses. Try getting recommendations from other business owners and make an effort to hire those who are engaged. Remember, project management training can get a bit boring, so make sure your lessons enlighten as well as inspire.

She is the director of trail and infrastructure for the Trans Canada Trail in Dundas, ON, Canada. Contact Heidi at [email protected].

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