We can all relate to unrolling a project out to our team and being less-than-satisfied with how it turned out. We feel frustrated and emotionally drained because as leaders, we know exactly what the result should be. We envision the exact deliverable down to every last detail. It’s easy to take this for granted because we often assume that people understand what we want. The disconnect comes in when we don’t know how to articulate this to our team.
Well how do I do that, Wendy? Great question!
Step 1: Make sure you have an uninterrupted 15 minutes. Close your laptop. Turn your phone to silent.
Step 2: Set a time for 15 minutes. I know you are busy, but this will payoff I promise!
Step 3: Take out a pen and some paper (yes, actual paper and a writing instrument) and write down your desired result for the project.
Step 4: Perform a brain dump of the steps needed to get that result. Focus on the broader steps first so you don’t get bogged down on the details. Don’t worry about getting them in the right sequence yet.
Step 5: Prioritize the steps in numerical order. Read the steps as one of your team members would. Is anything unclear or ambiguous? Does anything need to be simplified? Make any changes that you see immediately. Now, put it aside and come back to it after one hour.
Step 6: Read the list one final time making revisions as necessary. And Voila! You just reverse-engineered your deliverable!
Now here are just a few tips to get you to the finish line. Meet with your team and review the steps together. Reassure them there aren’t any “dumb” questions. Invite them to ask clarifying questions. This is critical to getting the project off on the right foot. A lot of times employees (especially millennials) are afraid to ask follow-up questions. They feel like they should already know what to do. Rather than asking you, they go straight to the internet to find their answers. By making yourself accessible and approachable, you can avoid conflicts in later stages of the project.
But Wendy, why do I have to babysit my employees? Great question! The simple answer is you don’t. Once you have given clear expectations and have emphasized that they come to you for answers, they will start to learn your preferences, and you will notice less and less hand holding. Yes, it may take more time initially, but you are training your staff on your likes and dislikes and preferred methods.
As a bonus, you are building morale, engaging, and empowering your employees just by spending more time with them and letting them know it’s okay to come to you when they get stuck. You will be surprised by the positive results clear communication and investing your time will yield!