The Letter A – “How Do You Say ‘Success’ in Strengths?”

(See my approach to this topic in my online course – “My XYZ’s of Excellence,” Day 1 – The letter A – Assess and Acknowledge)


How Do You Say 'Success' in Strengths?


  • Using strengths as a common language improves engagement and performance
  • To change a culture, all employees need the opportunity to learn their strengths
  • When everyone “speaks strengths,” work gets done more efficiently

As leaders grapple with how to build cultures of inclusion, using a common language based on strengths can be an effective tool.

Pivoting from divisive factors to 34 ways to describe what people naturally do best (in 33.4 million varieties of top five theme combinations) can help everyone get at the heart of what makes humans alike: the way we think, feel and behave.

Leaders can choose to have pockets of their teams explore their talents using a strengths-based approach like CliftonStrengths — but to change a culture, it can’t be that just a few experience it. It needs to be baked in, and everyone needs to take part.

Employees who agree that their organization “is committed to building the strengths of each associate” are also much likelier to agree that:

  • their organization’s mission — and therefore their job — is important
  • they are supported in their development efforts
  • their opinions count
  • they have an opportunity to learn and grow at work
  • they can do what they do best every day
  • someone at work cares about them
  • they receive helpful feedback on how they are doing

GALLUP ACCESSUse CliftonStrengths to Improve Team PerformanceGet access to the CliftonStrengths assessment and team tools within the Gallup Access platform.

Employees who know and use their strengths are six times as likely to be engaged at work, nearly 8% more productive in their role and much less likely to leave their company.

Business leaders who invest in building cultures where people are positioned to do what they do best every day see up to 19% increased sales, 29% increased profits, 59% fewer safety incidents and 72% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations).

These outcomes sound pretty good — but taking the step from knowing about a strengths-based culture to leading one requires a shift in how decisions are made. The “way things happen” in the workplace must be underpinned with an appreciation for what makes each employee unique. That starts with a baseline expectation that each person has an opportunity to discover what they do best.

Leaders can set the expectation for every employee to learn and use a common language about strengths.

In theory, it is possible to get to know what others do best through observation and interaction over time.

But when leaders have everyone take the CliftonStrengths assessment, they speed things up by adding a common language for everyone to use to describe each other’s potential right from the start.

An approach like this is designed to underpin a strengths-based culture by improving communication and opportunities for development all throughout the employee life cycle.

When everyone uses a common language to describe what they naturally do best — from the very beginning, starting when someone joins the organization, meets their team, partners with or collaborates with someone new, or is mentored by someone — everyone speaks in “strengths.”

In this way, when leaders expect everyone to learn about and apply their CliftonStrengths, they fuel the creation of an inclusive, collaborative culture. Everyone knows each person’s potential superpowers right from the start.

Leaders should also expect constructive communication and development using a strengths-based approach.

Without a real commitment to ingraining the language of strengths in the culture, everyone loses precious time in the potentially messy process of figuring out how best to work together.

Team members can even get their wires crossed with each other — meaning they fail to understand one another while trying to figure it out. That happens when people don’t understand the motivations of those around them.

For example, someone who likes to make fast decisions may grow irritated when a partner prefers to move more slowly (and vice versa). What can be less obvious without an understanding of strengths is that the slow-mover is mitigating for potential barriers while the fast-mover is pushing for the action that makes things happen.

Rather than having a conversation about their different approaches, where they can each name their strengths and the motivation that those strengths create for them to act in that way, they end up feeling it out and naturally experience friction along the way. This can end up as fodder for more frustration rather than productive outcomes.

Without a real commitment to ingraining the language of strengths in the culture, everyone loses precious time in the potentially messy process of figuring out how best to work together.NEW BOOKIt’s the ManagerLearn why the manager is key to every aspect of your workplace.

It’s even worse when managers repeatedly assign work to employees in areas that don’t fit them well or align with their natural talents. Each move the employee makes on behalf of the organization can negatively affect their own engagement and the outcomes they aim to deliver for customers.

When managers “speak strengths,” though, the projects they assign can boost both growth for the individual and ultimately performance outcomes for the company.

And when everyone speaks strengths when starting projects together, they might choose partners who complement their work style. Or they might just acknowledge their differences upfront and stay respectfully aware of them as they navigate the completion of the project together.

Focusing on strengths doesn’t mean forgetting about weaknesses or overlooking poor performance. But learning the language of strengths enables discussion about barriers that may exist because of a misalignment of talent — where coaching and support are needed to develop an area of strength, or where there’s a void to fill via partnerships, processes or shifts in work.

In cultures that are truly strengths-based, people working together are able to move past annoyances and miscommunications to acceptance, appreciation and ultimately admiration for the differences that help them to achieve results together.

The “way things happen” in the workplace must be underpinned with an appreciation for what makes each employee unique.

As the late Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

An organizational culture where people work outside their personal strengths zone, day after day, does very little for business performance.

On the other hand, the performance outcomes of strengths-based cultures are clear.

With a focus on what employees do best, leaders who prioritize strengths development provide a common language for people to discuss how they can collaborate effectively — creating an inclusive culture where teams can build on those proven performance outcomes and generate organic business growth.

Not sure where to start? Let us help.

Editor’s Note: A previously published version of this article stated that employees who know and use their strengths are “nearly eight times more productive in their role.” This has been corrected to read “nearly 8% more productive in their role.”


Shannon Mullen O’Keefe is an Adviser and Performance Lead, Organizational Performance Consulting, at Gallup.

The Letter R – “Top 10 productivity books you must read in 2020”


Top 10 productivity books you must read in 2020
Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore
Feb 1 2020 10 min read

(editors note… the year is nearly over, quick go get one or two of these books.)

When you think about improving your productivity, you probably don’t think of sitting down to read a book.

However: That actually might be one of the best things you can do. Reading is an easy way to learn some of the best tips, tricks, and tools about productivity that you can apply to your everyday life.

If you’re looking for a good book recommendation on this topic you can read (or listen to!) in your down time–you’re in the right place.

We’ve got a list of 10 books that will help you get the most out of your days.

Why productivity books are a good idea
Before we get into the actual book recommendations, let’s quickly go over why productivity books are a good idea in the first place (and the reality of modern adults’ reading habits.)

It turns out that book consumption among US-based adults is fairly low these days. In fact, Pew Research shows that about 26% of Americans admit to not having read even a part of a book within the past year.

That said, if you can make time to read even one book this year, a title that’s focused on productivity is a good choice, as it’ll help make you more effective at work and in your daily life. Plus: They’re often easy to digest, tactical, and provide actionable tips and tricks you can apply right away.

Overall, reading productivity-focused books is a smart time investment, but it has a mental health benefit, too: A study conducted at the University of Sussex revealed that reading reduces stress by 68%. Not bad, right?

Next, let’s look at some specific titles that’ll help you get on the path to maximum productivity based on your needs.

Top productivity books: Find the right book for your needs
These 10 books are a great shortlist if you’re looking for productivity advice around a variety of needs and issues. Be sure to look at the descriptions and “Read if” sections to find the one that’s right for you.

#1 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Productivity books: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People bookcover

by Stephen Covey
This book was originally published back in 1989 and has sold more than 25 million copies since its release. Its focus is an approach that pivots on aligning with your “character ethic”, which happens by forming a series of seven habits. These habits allow the reader to move from dependence to interdependence for maximum effectiveness in life. It’s a good high-level productivity read if you’re more into long-term behavior modification rather than quick hacks and tricks.

Quote: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Read if: You are into gurus with life-changing insights…

#2 Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Productivity books: Deep Work - Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World bookcover

by Cal Newport
Newport’s Deep Work is a book that focuses on eliminating the clutter, noise, and distraction of the modern world so you can focus on deep, productive work. This is especially difficult in a world of technology (think buzzing phones, never-ending notifications, and a flooded email inbox.) If you need to simplify and get rid of the things in the way of your deep work, this book is for you.

Quote: “Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking.”

Read if: You need help getting into deep work, which allows you to focus without distraction on a difficult or demanding task.

#3 Getting Things Done – Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Productivity books: Getting Things Done - Art of Stress-Free Productivity bookcover

by David Allen
This book was crafted for the business crowd and has spawned a whole offshoot of seminars, courses, and workbooks that people around the world swear by. With tips and principles around organization, prioritization, and clear goal-setting, this book also shares some meaningful insight into how to include relaxation as part of the big-picture strategy.

Quote: “If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

Read if: You need help overcoming feelings of confusion, anxiety, and overwhelm at work.

#4 Essentialism –The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Productivity books: Essentialism -The Disciplined Pursuit of Less bookcover

by Greg McKeown
Essentialism is a book for the person feeling frazzled by having too much to do and not enough time. The Amazon description sums this approach up nicely: “Essentialism is not a time management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.”

Quote: “Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

Read if: You’re looking for a strategy to help you figure out what is absolutely essential so you can be as productive as possible doing the things that matter most.

#5 Zen to Done

Productivity Books: Zen to Done bookcover

by Leo Babauta
If you want an ultra-simple productivity system, look no further. This book is the “Art of Tidying Up” …but for your workday. Focusing on habits and structure, you’ll learn how to become more mindful and at peace with what’s on your to-do list so you can logically and thoughtfully tackle your work.

Quote: “Keep it simple, and focus on what you have to do right now, not on playing with your system or your tools.”

Read if: You want to get your life organized and actually executing the things on your to-do list and changing your existing habits.

#6 Free to Focus

Productivity books: Free to Focus bookcover

by Michael Hyatt
More than 25,000 professionals use the ideas outlined in this book to have more productive workdays. It teaches you how to: Filter your tasks and commitments, cut out the nonessentials, eliminate interruptions and distractions, and set boundaries that protect your focus and drive results. If you want a simple, no-nonsense approach to productivity with only three steps, this is the right book for you.

Quote: “True productivity is about doing more of what is in your desire zone and less of everything else.”

Read if: You need help discerning what’s important (and what’s not) in your day-to-day life. This book will help you gain clarity and direction around how to better prioritize your work.

#7 How to be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do

Productivity books: How to be a Productivity Ninja

by Graham Allcott
Written by one of the UK’s foremost productivity experts, this book is all about making the most of your attention, beating procrastination, and learning to work smarter–not harder. By reading it, you’ll gain tactics for guarding your time (and will teach you how to be ruthless, if needed) as well as insights into how to stay calm and work with a clear mind.

Quote: “The trouble is, the modern work paradigm gives us so little sense of completion or clear space that it feels like we’re constantly straining to see the light at the end of a long, long tunnel.”

Read if: You’re looking for a fun, accessible guide to productivity that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

#8 Extreme Productivity – Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours

Productivity books: Extreme Productivity - Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours bookcover

by Robert Pozen
Written by a Harvard Business professor who also balanced a full-time chairman role for a global financial-services firm, this book is all about learning how to maintain laser focus to get the most done in the least amount of time. One of the key principles to this book is the idea that you have to make a critical shift in your mindset from hours worked to results produced if you want to be fully efficient and effective.

Quote: “If a project looks as though it may fail, make sure to give your boss plenty of advance warning. Bosses don’t want to be surprised by long delays or major blow-ups. It is bad enough if they occur; it’s even worse if they occur without prior warning to the boss. With advance notice of a serious problem, your boss may be able to revise the project goals, reshuffle its resources, or come up with a brilliant solution. At the very least, your boss won’t make promises to his or her superiors that cannot be kept.”

Read if: You want practical advice from someone who understands both the classroom and at-work context of being productive (and still maintaining a healthy family life.)

#9 Principles – Life and Work

Productivity books: Principles - Life and Work

by Ray Dalio
Written by the founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the most important private companies in the United States, this book is all about the unconventional principles he’s developed, refined, and used over the past 40 years in business and in life. If you want to get more familiar with terms like “radical honesty” and “radical transparency” (with no BS!) this is simple and easy to read book that’ll hit all the important notes for you.

Quote: “Time is like a river that carries us forward into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions. We can’t stop our movement down this river and we can’t avoid those encounters. We can only approach them in the best possible way.”

Read if: You want to learn from a seasoned entrepreneur who has an unconventional (and maybe controversial?) approach to being productive.

#10 Scrum – The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Productivity books: Scrum - The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

by Jeff Sutherland
You may have heard of the term “scrum” in the management world–it’s based on the rugby formation in which the entire team locks its arms to gain control of the ball. In the business environment, this term (and the idea behind it) is all about spotting what is wrong with the way we currently do work. The author of this book coined the term, and shares his (sometimes blunt) ideas on how to eliminate it from your workday for maximum productivity.

Quote: “Multitasking Makes You Stupid. Doing more than one thing at a time makes you slower and worse at both tasks. Don’t do it. If you think this doesn’t apply to you, you’re wrong—it does.”

Read if: You don’t want any fluff and want a straight-talker who can tell you how to maximize your day with less overall friction.

Productivity books will set you free
You have a spare 15 minutes every day, right? Grab one of these books off Amazon or at your local bookstore (or library!) and make it a goal to work through one. You’ll be ahead of the curve–and might even learn some tactics that revolutionize your workday while you do it.

Kaleigh Moore
Kaleigh is an experienced writer and Forbes + Vogue Business retail contributor.

I can’t believe she somehow missed my book;

“My XYZ’s of Excellence – 26 Days to Excellence in Business Leadership and Life”

by J A Epperson
Alas, I’ll plug it now for you. You can even get a copy from my publisher by clicking here I used a high quality publish on demand provider.

It’s now a full online course check out the free course module click here. In the “One Day at a Time” online course you’ll find that the course module Day 10 – Read, Reflect and Remember confirms Kaleigh’s argument of the “need to read” and the mantra “leaders are readers.”

The Letters M and P – “How To Work From Home With Kids: A Guide”


By Jeremy McAbee, October 8, 2020

How To Work From Home With Kids: A Guide
See how can improve your productivity
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home was becoming increasingly common. However, in the wake of the coronavirus, work from home (or WFH for short) has become the new norm — and a lot of professionals are working from home with kids. 

In this article, we’re taking a deep dive into how to work from home with kids, how to create a workspace at home, and how to develop a manageable work-from-home schedule that your whole family can benefit from.

Why is there an increase in work from home parents?

According to research out of Stanford, 42% of the U.S. labor force is working from home full time. The cause of this new “working from home economy” is clear: the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor and senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, “The stigma associated with working from home prior to COVID-19 has disappeared.” What’s more, Bloom says that a number of corporations are developing plans for more work from home options beyond the pandemic. In fact, a separate survey indicated that “the share of working days spent at home is expected to increase fourfold from pre-COVID levels, from 5% to 20%.”

Naturally, many of these now-remote employees are working from home with kids. On top of that, many of those children are attending virtual school from home. That means these work from home parents are not only adjusting to new working environments and a work from home schedule for themselves, but they’re also balancing their jobs with their duties as parents, tutors, and classroom assistants to their children. 

Common challenges of working from home with kids

The challenges of working from home with kids can vary greatly depending on factors like how many kids you have at home, their ages, and any special accommodations or needs they may have. For instance, a newborn baby or a toddler will likely require more time and attention than a high-schooler, although teenagers present plenty of unique challenges of their own. 

Some of the most common challenges facing work from home parents include:Power the Modern, Agile EnterpriseCrush your 2020 goals and keep moving forward with Wrike’s work management platform.Get started for free

Time management

Maintaining a regular schedule can be extremely challenging when working from home with kids. Not only do you have to manage your own time, but you have to manage your children and ensure they’re taking care of their schoolwork, if they’re of school age. 

Managing time and a busy work schedule can be even more complicated if your child or children are five years old or younger, which means you must be extra diligent about creating a manageable schedule and having the necessary support systems in place. 


Probably the biggest challenge of working from home with children is dealing with interruptions.  These always seem to come at the most inopportune times — like when you’re on a Zoom meeting with colleagues, managers, or clients. Even if you’re not in a virtual meeting but are concentrating on a work task, interruptions can derail productivity. In fact, according to one study, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand after an interruption.

Switching from “work mode” to “parent mode”

Another common challenge for work from home parents is switching gears from “work mode” to “parent mode”. This can be tough, even after 5:00 p.m. when most people are typically done with work for the day.

In fact, separating your work life from your home life becomes significantly more challenging when working from home. Work duties and parental duties can easily bleed into one another without the physical separation that comes from working in one distinct location and living in another. This is why creating a designated workspace in your home can be so beneficial for work from home parents. 

How To Work From Home With Kids A Guide 2
(Source: Picsea via Unsplash)

How to create a workspace at home

The importance of creating a workspace just for you goes beyond the psychology of training your now-WFH brain to recognize work actually needs to be completed in your home. A physical workspace also helps to remind your family that you are, in fact, not 100% available to cater to their every need. Setting down rules on how to get your attention can also help to ensure you get some time to concentrate. A starter project you may even consider giving your child is to make a sign for your office door that you can update with “In a meeting” or “Busy until 2:00” messages. 

If creating a physical barrier simply isn’t a possibility (e.g. your kids are too young, you’re the only adult home, etc.), you may instead consider setting up both you and your children in the same room, but perhaps in different corners. One for your work and one for theirs. Many schools are providing online instruction and assignments. Turning half your office into a pseudo-classroom can help everyone stay focused and on task

Make use of noise-cancellation — for you and your team

We’ve all been in meetings where there is suddenly a siren in the background or other auditory distractions that derail the call. Considering it takes an average of 16 minutes to re-focus after reading an email, reducing the number of distractions both you and your team encounter should be top-of-mind. Now that you and your children have been thrust into the same environment, make use of both a noise-canceling headset and your microphone’s mute button whenever you are on a call. If you’re the only one home, having a video baby monitor available to watch your kids can help you keep an eye on them even if you can’t hear them. If total separation isn’t possible, consider giving the noise-canceling headset to your child (it may help keep them focused on their tasks/entertainment and stop them from attempting to join your meeting). 

One handy feature of video conferencing tools like Zoom is a push-to-talk (PTT) option when muting your microphone. Utilizing features like this can further help to reduce background noise and reduce the number of times you have to mute/unmute yourself while on the call. 

How to work from home with a baby

Working from home with a baby can be particularly challenging since they require so much time and attention. However, here are a few tips to help you stay productive while tending to your baby.

Take advantage of naps

Most babies tend to take multiple naps throughout the day. If your baby is a napper, you can take advantage of these pockets of time to get some work done. In fact, you may find that tackling your most intensive tasks during naptime is a good strategy, since you know you will have a certain amount of time that’s totally distraction-free while the baby is conked out. 

Work when they’re content and calm

Of course, most babies don’t nap the entire day, and you’ll likely have more work than can be done during naptime alone. The second best time to work from home with a baby is when they are at their calmest, typically right after they wake up or after they eat. 

Use a baby carrier

Another strategy is to use a carrier that allows you to “wear” your baby while you work. A standing desk setup plus a carrier can help you remain productive while keeping your baby close and content.

Overcommunicate with your colleagues

Nothing spells disaster more than leaving your co-workers in the dark. If they’re unable to get in contact with you to answer questions, collaborate on projects, or get information so they can do their job, the likelihood of something falling through the cracks increases dramatically. Utilizing group chat statuses and clearly defining what hours you’re available can help to let others know what your workload looks like and when you’re available during the day. 

To further increase collaboration, consider implementing an online project management tool like Wrike to create a single source of truth for your teams. By keeping all information in one spot and centralizing communication, you can ensure everyone stays well-informed on projects’ and deliverables’ statuses. 

Don’t beat yourself up

The fact of the matter is that working from home with kids — particularly a baby — is a real challenge. Do the best you can to communicate with your teammates and managers, create a reasonable work schedule, and be as productive as possible. But also give yourself some grace and try not to get caught up in feeling guilty.

How to create a work from home schedule that works for everyone

Parents know their children’s attention span never seems to last long enough. No matter what project or entertainment you give your kid, you know they’re only going to stay distracted for so long. The good news is you can use this to your advantage to time out your tasks during the day. Studies have shown multitasking is detrimental to productivity, and the advantages of breaking up a large project into smaller ones can also be incredibly helpful. Timing yourself to work on one task at a time should not only help ensure your efficiency, but also help keep an eye on your little ones. 

Past individual tasks and daily schedules, creating a shared calendar with project deadlines and milestones can help keep everyone aligned with what needs to be finished by when.

Be (and stay) flexible

We all know something going perfectly to plan almost never happens — especially when taking kids into account. Planning as much as you can will help identify roadblocks and potential issues that may crop up over the next few weeks — but it won’t account for everything. Bake in some flexibility when planning out your time. 

Any tools you use to collaborate with your colleagues should be able to handle rapid changes. Dynamically changing due dates on deliverables (and accurately extrapolating that to dependencies) should be something your tools can easily accomplish. This will help to simplify your processes when change occurs.

Wrike can help work from home parents stay on track

The processes that worked for you in the office may no longer work now that you and your team are distributed. Now is the time to look at what your workflow management processes are and see how they can be improved. Doing this now will help to alleviate potential issues from this radical workplace change, better prepare you for future business growth, and minimize familial distractions during the workday.

Wrike’s own remote workforce has been sharing tips and tricks from our home offices all over the world. Additionally, you can take advantage of Wrike’s free trial to learn more about how to manage the future of work.

Learn more about Planning and Preparation on Day 9 of My XYZ’s of Excellence – 26 Days to Excellence in Business Leadership and Life “One Day at a Time” online course.

The Letter P – “A Step-by-step guide to project monitoring and evaluation”


A step-by-step guide to project monitoring and evaluation
All of us at

All of us at; Oct 7 this is an 8 min read

Managing a single task is straightforward enough — you put in the work and submit it for review when it’s finished.

In reality, a typical project consists of many moving parts that must work together to meet deadlines. Just one part breaking down can cause delays and financial losses.

Keeping everything on the right track isn’t easy. This is why every project needs to have a system in place to monitor and evaluate its progress.

It sounds obvious enough, but how do you actually do it?

In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth look at what project monitoring and evaluation is, why it’s important, and how to implement it in your organization. We’ll also give you an actionable template you can customize and put what you’ve learned into practice.

What is project monitoring and evaluation?

Project monitoring and evaluation is used to measure a project’s progress. It’s important because it lets you keep tabs on a project and identify potential problems.

Let’s take a closer look at these two concepts.

What is project monitoring?

Project monitoring is the process of keeping a close eye on the entire project management life cycle and ensuring project activities are on the right track.The success of a project depends on a clearly defined structure. Not having a plan would be like building a house without a blueprint — possible, but incredibly difficult with tons of room for error.

A lack of goals and measurable objectives (37%) is the primary reason why projects fail.

A graph showing project monitoring statistics

(Image Source)

Goals are important for any project because they act as a guide. But just setting an objective isn’t enough. You need to make it a point to check if you’re actually meeting them.

Project monitoring is all about comparing actual performance to the goals you set. If you’re not hitting milestones (e.g., delivering a prototype within a specified time), the project has a high chance of failure.

A project can be divided into five phases: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Closing, and Monitoring and Control.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these phases:

  • Initiation: The initiation phase outlines the steps and processes that must be approved before any planning begins.
  • Planning: The planning phase determines the project scope and details the processes for the execution phase.
  • Executing: The execution phase involves carrying out the activities defined in the planning phase.
  • Closing: The closing phase finalizes the project and its completion is communicated to all stakeholders.
  • Monitoring and control: The monitoring and control phase involves making sure the project is on track and incorporating any necessary changes. This happens at the same time as the planning and execution phases.

Project monitoring is the ‘monitoring part’ of the monitoring and control phase.

It involves measuring project-related details (e.g., budgets, schedules, scope, etc.) against your goals to ensure you’re on the right track.

Now let’s take a look at project evaluation.

What is project evaluation?

Project evaluation is the ‘control’ part of the monitoring and control phase. It involves looking at the information you gather from monitoring and making decisions based on it (e.g., do we need to adjust schedules or fast track certain processes to meet deadlines?).

Not every project goes according to plan. Costs might exceed the initial budget, team members might miss their deadlines due to scope creep, a stakeholder may suddenly back out, etc.

But project issues are also perfect learning opportunities to identify where things in the project plan started to go awry.

This is what a project evaluation framework is all about. Evaluating why a project is heading off course allows time for intervention.

Best case, you discover an issue early enough to get back on course. Worst case, you gain valuable insights that you can use to improve future workflows.

The evaluation process happens throughout the project — not just after project objectives are met. There may also be more in-depth evaluations at big milestones, like the retrospective at the end of a sprint.

Companies waste an average of 11.4% of their investment on projects due to poor performance. Project monitoring and evaluation is a tool to help you improve a project’s overall efficiency by catching and resolving issues before it’s too late.

Let’s look at how you can get started.

How to get started with project monitoring and evaluation

Project monitoring and evaluation enables you to make better decisions about ongoing and future projects. Here’s some framework and steps you can follow to get started.

#1: Create a plan for monitoring and evaluating your projects

The first step is to create a process for how you will monitor and evaluate your projects. Start with the following steps:

  • Organize your projects: You need a platform or system to capture and organize your data in one place. Use project management software to keep tabs on different phases of a project. Here’s an example of how teams are monitoring the project scope in
A screenshot showing the project management software from
  • Identify responsibilities: Who will be responsible for monitoring each phase of the project and conducting evaluations? How will they determine and measure project success? Designate stakeholder roles as early as possible and create a checklist of their responsibilities.
  • Record project bottlenecks: What were some issues that you or your project team experienced? Make sure to record those incidents, including how you addressed them and what the outcome was.
  • Create an evaluation plan: Will you conduct evaluations every week or after each phase of the project is complete? Collect feedback from your team to get their thoughts on how workflows can be improved.

#2: Monitor performance in real-time

Whether you’re managing a construction project or launching a new product, you need a real-time view of what’s happening to monitor your projects and make informed decisions.

Here’s an example of how the team at monitors and manages project implementation in real-time:

A screenshot of the marketing workload from

(Image Source)

Monitoring performance in real-time enables you to track each team member’s progress and allocate resources accordingly.

The last thing you want is to work with outdated information, which is exactly the kind of issue that M Booth, a digital PR agency in New York City, experienced.

Their team was copying and pasting information from Basecamp into a spreadsheet to see everything in one place. But problems arose when one platform was updated and the other wasn’t. This meant that some employees were working with outdated data.

#3: Evaluate project reports

Was the project delivered on time? Or were there unexpected setbacks?

Answering these questions is what project monitoring and evaluating is all about. But you need to collect the right data and assess the results to find the answers.

Pull reports from an ongoing or completed project and evaluate your key performance indicators (KPIs) — metrics that gauge your project’s performance.

Reviewing reports can help you understand how your team is performing against their goals and pinpoint where timelines started to deviate.

Here’s a quick glance of a project report created in

A project report in the form of a pie chart from

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#4: Improve workflow processes

If a project didn’t meet the deadline, dig deeper to find out why. What were some of the setbacks? How were they eventually resolved?

Don’t stop there though. Use our incident management template to record any incidents and how you addressed them.

An incident management template from

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If anyone on your team runs into a similar issue for future projects, they can refer to the board for a solution.

#5: Focus on learning and improving

Project monitoring and evaluation lets you keep tabs on projects, evaluate their progress, and improve processes. Just making one change can have a huge impact on future projects.

For example, the team at turned hours of tedious meetings into a single 20-minute session just by adding more boards.

But we also recognize there’s always room for improvement, so the team is constantly focusing on learning and improving. That’s the additional reward of project monitoring and evaluation.

Even after implementing a new change, don’t celebrate just yet. Continue learning from and optimizing your evaluation system to make your work processes even more productive.


In a perfect world, all of your projects would go according to plan. Everything would be completed on time and within budget.

But that doesn’t always happen in reality — employees may miss deadlines due to personal emergencies, external stakeholders may back out without explanation, etc.

Project monitoring and evaluation enables you to identify and mitigate issues that may impact the project scope, quality, timeline, or budget. You can then take those insights and use them to optimize processes for future projects.

Use a project tracker template to monitor projects and get a high-level view of where everything stands — all from one place. You can easily customize the template and create a tailored plan that fits your workflow.

Get a project tracker template now!

Learn more about Planning and Preparation on Day 9 of My XYZ’s of Excellence – 26 Days to Excellence in Business Leadership and Life “One Day at a Time” online course.

The Letter P – “5 Warning Signs Your Current Project Management Tool Just Isn’t Cutting It”

 Guest Author, December 28, 2016
5 Warning Signs Your Current Project Management Tool Just Isn’t Cutting It

As your organization changes, your project management needs will change, too. Growth is great, but it makes the need for clear communication and task management more important than ever.  

If you’re already paying for a project management solution, it can be difficult to justify the cost and time it will take to implement a new one. Plus, adoption can be a concern in organizations where staff members are slow to accept new processes and procedures. 

So how do you know if it’s worth it to upgrade your project management tool? Here are four signs that it’s time to find new software:

You’re using several different tools

How many steps does it take for your team to complete a task? If you’re using a separate task management system, time tracker, and sending emails, there’s a good chance communication is falling through the cracks. Using several different, disconnected tools opens the door to wasted time, duplication, and missed opportunities.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve updated your software, you might be surprised to learn that many products cover several project management needs in a single system. Look for a tool that can house all of your processes and communication from the same interface to avoid confusion and missed opportunities.

Your work isn’t accessible in the cloud

Most growing companies benefit from moving their project management system to the cloud. If you’re ready to move to the cloud, you’ll benefit from faster communication, easy implementation, and ubiquitous access to all of your work. The best part? Cloud-based project management tools can save you from the upfront cost burden of a perpetual license.

New hires have a hard time learning the ropes

If you’re spending more time training a new hire to use your project management software than on their actual job, you have a problem. Your project management tool should be easy to learn so new hires and veteran employees can get acclimated quickly and start being productive. Your vendor should also offer training and troubleshooting documentation, so you don’t have to explain the ins and outs of every workflow to every team member.

Your organization is changing

Growth is a good thing, but sometimes it makes things complicated.  When you add new team members and projects, your project management software can’t always keep up — especially if you’re using an outdated system. You need to find a system that can grow with you. Many tools are scalable and offer different plans for small, medium, and large businesses, as well as the ability to add and remove users without hassle.

You have too many meetings

Isn’t the point of a project management tool to cut down on busy work and unnecessary meetings? If you’re gathering the team in the conference room for project updates and brainstorming sessions every day, your software isn’t doing enough to help. A project management solution should house discussions, progress updates, tasks, deadlines, file attachments, and more. Use those meetings to set broader priorities and solve problems. Your team can use the extra time to complete tasks and focus on delivering top-notch work.

If you’ve made it through this list and it’s clear that you need to update your project management tool, talk to your team about what features they need and what pain points they have with your current system. Use their feedback to guide the research process.

Author Bio: 

Megan Pacella is a contributor for, with specializations in B2B marketing and sales. She has also written for USA Today, Bearings Guide, 10Best Nashville, and other publications.

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