Derek was frustrated! His open door policy was biting him in the business! His team had a new project. It seemed that every five minutes someone was coming to the door to ask another question. His whole day was spent putting out “fires”, answering simple questions that should have been common sense, and resolving disagreements among employees. When was he supposed to get his own work done?
As a manager, you dream of having the team that shows up on time; excels in getting the work done; is collaborative, creative, and innovative; and knows exactly what to do for every project, task, and situation.
But, if you’re like most managers, that’s not reality.
It is important to note that not everyone has your knowledge or skill-set. They need your help as much as you need theirs. To streamline your team, provide the autonomy they desire, empower individuals to take initiative, and have the reassurance that you can trust team members, create clarity by answering these questions:
Who – Who is in charge of the project? Who is assigned which task? Who is coordinating tasks and timelines? When everyone understands who is responsible for what, there will be more clarity and less room for finger-pointing and blaming.
What – What is the purpose of the project? What outcomes are expected? What information and resources are needed? What resources are available, including people? If there are required amounts of information, resources, tests, or trials needed, what is the number? This information helps get everyone on the same page about expectations for the task or project.
When – When is the information needed? What is the deadline for each task that is assigned? When are check-ins expected and what is required at each check-in? This information alleviates the need for micromanaging and allows for autonomy in completing tasks. It also lets your team members know they will be held accountable to get work done on time. Be clear about any consequences for work not completed on time, including how it affects other aspects of the project or business.
Where – Where can team members go for additional resources? For support when they have challenges? For feedback? Where can they find relevant procedures, policies, or project reports?
How – How are updates being delivered and monitored? How are team members being evaluated? How will the project be evaluated?
Why – Perhaps the most important question a leader can answer is WHY the project is important to the business, and why each team member is important to the project or task assigned. When everyone understands their unique contribution and importance, they are more likely to buy into it and perform at their best.
The questions above should be answered at the outset of a project or task. Sometimes you, as the leader, will provide the information. At other times the information will be created together with the team or individual. The goal is to ensure the information is complete and clear so that individuals and teams can problem-solve and effectively resolve issues without having a revolving door to your office. Then, your task as the leader becomes supporting the work at regularly scheduled times to check on progress, issues, challenges, and to provide the support that will help the individual or team get the job done.
Every project or task requires clear communication about expectations. The more clarity, the easier it is for individuals and teams to excel in completing the task or project. When the answers to the above questions are outlined and shared, the process prevents confusion and unnecessary fires from occurring, gets the job done right the first time, and allows employees to thrive and grow professionally.
If you need help developing clear communication to streamline projects for your team, contact Joy today!