Over the next few months we will be releasing a six part mini-series on how to derail a project, looking at every aspect of the project development process from communication to responsibility. This month we’re focusing on clarity, which is closely connected to part one in the series on Failures of Communication.
Have you ever been in a meeting where team members thought they were on the same page, but after the meeting it became clear that everyone was confused about project needs, tasks and who was responsible for what?
Beyond just communication, the problem could be a lack of clarity. Losing clarity can happen pretty easily when project managers make assumptions about team members’ level of knowledge on the project. Often times each team member may understand the project differently depending on their work perspective (i.e. Marketing, Design, Content Writing etc…). As a result you may find that the next time you regroup, no one’s tasks are aligned.
Experienced teams run like a well-oiled machine, but it takes some setup work to get a team to that point. Thankfully, there are things you can do as a project manager to improve clarity on a project and get your team working together as efficiently as possible.
4 Ways to Add Clarity to a Project
1. Outline the scope of the project and everyone’s responsibilities clearly. In your project plan, be as specific as possible about which parts of the team are responsible for each part of the project and how their parts fit together to make it whole.
2. Organize your documentation. Even before a project kicks off, there’s usually a pile of documents, files, etc., that outline the client’s expectations and other crucial notes about the project. Both the initial documentation and any new items that are created by the team as the project gets underway should be stored in a central place where everyone can easily find and consult them.
3. Take advantage of technology. Get the team onto project management software that will allow everyone to see what every other team member is working on at any particular time. This will reduce confusion and also eliminate duplicated work.
4. Hold regular meetings. In the past few years, meetings have gotten a bad rap as time-wasters, but the reality is that they’re one of the best ways to get everyone on the same page by having every team member provide input on their progress. Err in favor of shorter, more frequent meetings instead of ones that are further spread apart and try to cover too much.