Committing to doing a proper ‘Lessons Learned’ followup for every project is important.
The time for Lessons Learned is as close after the lesson is discovered as possible. In many cases, this review is when any important phase or aspect of the project is completed. Reviewing and updating the Lessons Learned should be ongoing and is especially beneficial at the end of the project to ensure a clear account is maintained while it is fresh in everyone’s mind.
As the leader of this endeavor, you should plan a get together of key stakeholders and your team to review the ‘good, bad, and ugly’ items at every phase of the project – and after completion, too. It doesn’t matter whether the items were successful or dismal failures; allowing everyone to bare their souls and tell it like they saw it can alleviate the burdens heaped on their lives during the crux of the deadlines.
During the meeting, everyone should be able to voice their opinions about any and all topics. Everyone needs to be comfortable with what they are saying, who they are saying it to, and when they are saying it (which is, hopefully, not too late).
Anonymous surveys are one way to ensure everyone has the opportunity. Whether they respond or not is usually directly related to the perceived value or benefit. See if you can make doing the survey worth their while. Offer something tangible as the benefit, something that you would want if you were to do a survey for someone else or another department.
There is obvious benefit to the corporation from these Lessons Learned, but what about the benefit to your participants? What can they take away from this event? How about a clear conscience? How about a feeling of being heard? How about a message that they are important, are being listened to, and even more importantly, that their requests are being acted on.
This is a leadership event. You get to listen to your team as well as the clients, sponsors, and stakeholders. This is a great opportunity for building rapport and firing-up the team. Find out what each individual thought about the project to this point and what suggestions they can make for improvements, as well as ask them whether they witnessed any MVPs, specific accolades, and/or any outstanding efforts.
Another approach to consider is getting praise from the outside world and sharing it with your team. It will be beneficial for you and them.
Do not put a Lessons Learned opportunity off until it is too late! You will be surprised at how much of a relief your team will feel with being given a forum to voice their concerns as well as heap their praise on others.
Image from Microsoft Clip Art