How many times have you or your team started working on something only to realize you were headed in the wrong direction? Not only is all the time you spent wasted; in some cases you actually have to spend more time undoing it so you can start again. Maybe you thought you understood and didn’t. Maybe you actually did understand but the requirements changed and nobody told you. Whatever happened it is frustrating, annoying and not good for anybody when it occurs.
The very simple (and I think trite) answer you hear to this problem is often “make sure you understand the requirements up front”. Well yeah, that isn’t rocket science. But how? None of us goes off half-cocked on purpose.
I am going to share eight questions you can ask yourself, your boss and your team in any situation. Individually they are not particularly earth shattering. As a group, if you take the time to get solid answers to each of them, I can guarantee you will spend less time firefighting and being reactive and more time being productive and proactive.
1. Do I understand the specific expectations of this project (i.e. do I know the end goal)?
2. Do I understand the path the leader (boss, stakeholders, etc) expects to be taken (i.e. do I know the plan)?
3. Do I have a clear understanding of what success looks like to the leader (i.e. will I know when I am successfully finished)?
4. Do I know where this project falls on the priority list, who has the authority to change that priority and how I will be notified if it changes?
5. Is there an agreed upon plan in place so we know when/how and what types of issues/concerns should be escalated?
6. Do I know how changes in scope/requirements will be communicated? Is there a date at which changes will no longer be accepted?
7. Have I communicated my understanding of the above information to the leader and received his/her agreement that we are on the same page?
8. Have I communicated the above information to my team and listened to/answered their questions and concerns?
I can almost hear your brain thinking – it would take a lot of time to gather and then disseminate answers to all of those questions. I will grant you it might take a day or two and a few emails or phone calls to make it happen. But certainly it is all information you will need during the project. I think it is better to know it upfront rather than learn it after you have been working toward the wrong goal for a week or longer.
If you feel like you are constantly chasing your tail or putting out fires, take the time to ask these questions. The answers will make your life much easier.
Share a comment about a time you didn’t have these answers and how much time it cost you. Or maybe you have time saving questions to add to the list. We always want to read your comments!
Next week: Managing burnout
Last week we talked about bringing on a new team member (onboarding). You can read about it here.
Tags :Champion Performance Development, Doc Robyn, going in the right direction the first time, on the same page, project kickoff, re-work, rework, Robyn Odegaard, teamwork, wasted time, wrong direction, wrong path