The number one mistake in project management might be the most common one, too – delegating the wrong tasks to the wrong people. Delegation is the name of the game when it comes to project management. The team needs their tasks, and the project manager needs to focus on delegating tasks effectively. Botch the handoff, and the team will suffer delays, or failures. Get it right, and the team can hum along like a well oiled machine. What goes into delegating tasks effectively?
1. Know Your Team’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Delegating tasks effectively requires tailoring the workload to the team member as much as possible. You need to know your team! If Greg is a shy numbers whiz, don’t put him as the main interface with the client. If Laura is a gregarious networker with basic computer skills, play to her strengths (people) instead of weaknesses (software work). The better you know your team, the better you can break down the workflow to their strengths. This not only ensures the best person on each job, it creates an environment where the team can thrive. People like work they’re good at!
2. Be Understanding, But Be Firm
Delegating always comes with problems. More often than we’d like, team members will try to wiggle out of an assignment. “I’m just so busy with the UX update, I can’t take on another responsibility.” “Ask Tom to work on this, it’s more in line with his skills.” “I’d love to take part in the task force, but I’m feeling a little under the weather this week.” Whatever the reasoning is, team members aren’t always enthusiastic about new tasks. As the project manager, you want to be understanding – it’s crucial for morale – but you also want to be firm. Take too many excuses early on in the project, and you’ll be branded a pushover. Once you find yourself there, you’ll have an uphill battle to manage the project, build momentum, and get your team’s buy in.
3. Clarity, Clarity, Clarity
Assigning tasks effectively requires your team members know exactly what it is they need to do…and how it fits in to the project plan. If Harvey and Fiona don’t know that their task is the crucial one needed for the next milestone and there are seven more tasks dependent on it, they may prioritize something else they’re working on. When deadline day comes, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise – accompanied by “I didn’t know this was so important! I thought we could have it done in two weeks…” That sentence is the epitaph of a project plan – and the project manager’s responsibility to avoid.
- Know your team, and tailor their assignments to their strengths.
- Be understanding of people’s needs and situations, but be firm with your assignments.
- Ensure team-wide clarity of the project, where every member knows how their task fits in to the overall picture.