Whenever I managed a new project, I typically knew exactly what I want it to look like when it was done. Unfortunately, I assumed that by just projecting this to the team members, they would know what to do.
Regrettably, many times this assumption resulted in miscommunication and misunderstanding. What I've learned from these experiences is that it's always important to keep the following principles in mind when communicating with a team.
Adapt to Your Audience
A good leader knows the strengths and limitations of each team member. In planning how to present information to the team, it is important to keep this in mind. By building this knowledge into the approach used, you can tailor the manner in which the instructions are given to what is best for the person involved.
Keep in mind that everybody does not learn at the same pace. Some people take a lot longer to catch on to new concepts than others. For example, some understand best by being told while others by being shown.
Watch Your Jargon
Every field, every trade and every profession has its private language - its jargon. In the world of Dale Carnegie, this can be extremely effective when people in the field communicate with each other.
However, our more recent project teams come from a variety of disciplines and industries. Some of the newer team members are not familiar with the jargon used by others. It may be prudent to devote some time to ensure all team members know and understand the necessary terminology. A ground rule should be to avoid using jargon when it is not really appropriate.
Obtain Continuing Feedback
I have found it helpful when providing instructions to the team to ask questions about the key points as they are presented. I ask team members to tell me how they interpret my message.
Where pertinent, I ask just how they intend to begin the assignment. If it is something which can be demonstrated, I have them show me what they will do. This will help correct any misunderstandings before the work starts.
At various times during the course of the project, check with your team members to assure they are performing as expected. It is not necessary to keep looking over their shoulders, but set pre-determined checkpoints at which you and your team can review the progress made and assure that what has been completed meets expected standards, so that there are no unpleasant surprises at the end of the project.
With the help of these techniques, you will motivate and enable your team to move forward quickly and accurately in any project. You will also help minimize the errors and improve dramatically the quality of your projects.
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Dave Stearns is president of Dale Carnegie Maine, a training organization located in South Portland. With over 30 years' experience, Dave has conducted programs in Greece, Portugal, Japan and Korea; as well as performance projects for companies such as IDEXX, Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), Martin's Point Healthcare, and Delhaize America (Hannaford). For more information, please visit his website at Maine.DaleCarnegie.com.