The last stage of your Project Team’s existence is not the implementation of the project. It’s not the bow during applause, and it isn’t even measuring the all-important ROI. The last stage of being a project team is actually the step that gets the least amount of attention, has the biggest impact on employee development and almost never gets the consideration it deserves. If you really want to develop a high performing team, spend some time assessing and talking about the lessons learned. If you don’t know how success (or a less-than-terrific outcome) came about, you won’t have much luck when you try to reproduce it or the members move on to lead their own teams.
Goals – Did the team members know what the goal (or goals) was for the team? Did the goals and objectives change over the course of the project? If so, how was that communicated?
Roles – Were team members clear about the role they had on the team as well as the role of others? How did they learn about who did what?
Hope and Reality – What did people expect to happen at the outset of the project and what actually did happen? What accounted for any gaps?
Keep – What went well in each of the above categories and why? Future teams will want to know what worked. Future leaders will want to have a template to use for their teams. It is also good for team members to have group and individual success’s encouraged and articulated out loud.
Toss – What would be done differently and how? Everything that could be improved upon can contribute to a better experience and outcome next time. Everything from pre-team planning, meeting logistics, communication processes, conflict resolution, obtaining resources and support, and potential problem protection can be assessed. Outline not just what could be done, but how it could be done.
Lessons learned is how continuous learning, development and improvement can be woven into the fabric of your organizational culture. Spend time talking about those ‘lessons learned.’
And adding refreshments when you meet to do that can make it feel more like a welcome and celebratory stage that ends the project.