Communicating effectively isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to a complex project or difficult customer.
Very often, complicated instructions can be misunderstood, fundamental steps can be overlooked or the vision for a project can be misinterpreted.
If you’re not taking the necessary steps to convey a clear message or provide detailed instructions to your team, your project may be doomed from the start.
Here are five steps to communicating clearly with your team:
Understand the Project
This might seem obvious, but this preliminary step is often the loose end that unravels the entire project.
Before you even approach your team, outline the goals, benchmarks, and process so you’re intimately familiar with the project. This way, you can confidently convey instructions to the team and field any tough questions when they arise.
Define the Process
Outlining a clear process and command structure at the beginning of a project can help maintain the integrity of the outcome. When people understand the chain of command, what steps occur when and their own role in the process, the project will most likely be successful.
Part of any good process, incidentally, should include a mechanism for pivoting when necessary. When challenges arise and changes become necessary, make sure you have a way for the team to handle problems on the fly.
Know Your Team
If certain staff members take instruction better via email and others do better with verbal directives, address the team as a group and then send a follow-up email with a recap of expectations. Likewise, find out who works well together and who doesn’t.
Knowing how your team operates will help to avoid confusion, infighting and wasted time, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Play to Strengths
If you focus your attention on guiding your people toward what they do well, you’ll spend less time trying to shore up their weaknesses.
If you know one member of your team works better on his own, give him the space and independence he needs. If another team member can transition well between tasks, put her in a position to change priorities as conditions dictate.
Listen to your employees as a project is underway. Not only will you gain insight into how team members work together, you’ll also build trust with them.
These are the people who are on the front lines of the project. Often, they can offer you guidance on how best to approach a problem or challenge to ensure a successful outcome.
Plus, if you’re only ever issuing directives, your instructions will eventually become annoying white noise.
When things go wrong and a project fails, it’s easy to find the guilty and affix blame. However, failure often occurs well in advance of the execution of a project, which means you may only have yourself to blame. Good leaders put their teams in positions to succeed, and this means communicating effectively, not just issuing orders.
Mutual respect, clearly defined goals and a well-articulated process can turn even the most difficult projects into successful ones.
Fire Alarm Photo via Shutterstock
I agree about knowing your team. You really cannot maximize a team’s potential if you don’t know how to delegate the tasks to them.