What to do if your team doesn’t believe the project schedule

(This post contains affiliate hyperlinks. Please read my full disclosure.
This is an edited excerpt from Project Pain Reliever. This chapter and another were my contributions to the book. This chapter is about ensuring that everyone buys into the project’s schedule.

The One-Man Plan: A Story
The Team isn’t sticking to the Plan
The Warning Signs
What Happens If I Do Nothing?
The Solution
What should I do? All Tasks Should Be Documented
2. Understanding the Dependencies
3. Create the Schedule

When you see this, you know that you are in a good place.

The One-Man Plan: A Story
Hans had spent a lot time planning his project. He was aware of what was needed and how long it would take. Gathering requirements would take a few days. After all, there weren’t many users to ask.
Hans proudly projected the schedule onto the wall of the meeting room. He knew it was one the most important documents in the project. He said to the team, “Looking at this we’ll be done before June.”
Their faces were shocked and disbelief.
Claire from Finance said, “You’ve just got one-day for budget approval.” “You know that approval cycles take three weeks. And there’s nothing in the training plan. My department has four hundred employees. How can I train them all to use the new system?”
Claire wasn’t alone in his complaints. Each member of the team pointed out flaws in his plan as they sat around the table. Claire stated, after everyone had pulled apart the schedule, “We absolutely cannot do this.” “It’s idiotic.”
Hans had misunderstood what was required to deliver this project. He also realized that he didn’t understand some of the tasks and had even missed some. The only thing that was good was that he hadn’t yet presented the schedule to the Sponsor. He needed a new plan and he had to do it quickly. The schedule was due to be presented to the Sponsor in the afternoon.
The Team isn’t sticking to the Plan
You have a detailed project plan. You have a well-documented plan and a schedule that meets the needs of the Sponsor.
But, now that the team has started working on the project it is obvious that they are following their own timescales and not paying much attention to your masterpiece.
They even went so far as to tell your schedule is unrealistic at their last team meeting. Okay, so you missed the testing phase, but it won’t take too long.
While everyone is doing their best, the team is working hard to complete tasks on time. However, they are beginning to resent that you signed them up for this. It’s difficult to know how long you can keep this project going if the team doesn’t believe in the plan and the schedule.
The Warning Signs
The timeframes are a source of frustration for the project team.
Tasks are not completed on time or at all.
It is happening that tasks are not in the plan.
Your team is under pressure to complete tasks within the milestone dates.
Everyone works long hours.
Team morale and confidence in you are falling.

What Happens If I Do Nothing?
The project will become more complicated and the tasks will not be completed on time. Your ability to keep your promises will cause the Sponsor to lose faith in you.
You may also put more pressure on your team to work faster. This could lead to cutting corners and delivering a poor product.
You will see a decline in morale and willingness to work with your team. You might find that they don’t want to work on your projects, and you will be known as a slave driver who always runs behind schedule. Trust is a key part of being a leader. If that trust is lost, the project (and you) will suffer.

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