New Year, Old Program-Tips for Program Managers

Program Management

It’s January; time to muster excitement for that program or project you inherited. It’s not a bad program. The people who work on the project are okay.  The problem is that this program has been with the organization since the beginning of time (or so it seems).

It runs smoothly and has good participation, but why would you want to go in and simply follow the steps laid out by the many predecessors before you? You want to make the program your own without discounting all of the great work that made it a “good” program.

But how?! It is established and no one within the organization is asking any questions.

You can gain some ownership over an inherited program and look for opportunities to update and refresh something that is not broken.

Here are a few strategies that can help.

  1. Host a kick off session. It is easy to assume that because a program has been with an organization for years, everyone within the organization understands what the purpose of the program is and how it operates. That is simply not true. Use this kick off session as an opportunity to gauge the organization’s understanding of the program. This opens the door for questions and allows you and your team an opportunity to resolve misconceptions about the program. If staff are confused about certain elements, I guarantee you the community you serve has some of the same questions.
  1. Assess the program’s alignment with the organizations’ goals, mission, and vision. A flagship program that runs well can be a blessing and a curse. It is great that it is not an issue but it may not have grown or evolved with the organization.  Assessing alignment can help you create an action plan for the next program year.
  1. Discuss evaluation throughout the program-planning phase. Evaluating a program should never be an afterthought and must be more than an obligatory, online survey sent to program participants.  Convene a group of staff to discuss evaluation during the preparation stage and task them with leading regular discussions around program evaluation.

You are good at what you do. Do not let an inherited or established program change your approach.

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