Your Prioritization Problem Isn’t One…It’s a Team Communication Problem

This article is from Issue #2 of The Water Cooler newsletter designed to help you improve team communication & morale in less than 2 minutes. Click here to make sure you get this in your inbox every Monday.

Project prioritization is one of the most difficult tasks to manage for any team.

If you’ve ever thought or uttered the words, “Why are you working on that?” Here’s a quick and easy solution to this prioritization problem.

Do me a favor and picture the last time you walked into a room or hopped onto a Zoom call and said “It’d be cool if we did…”

This seemingly small statement comes with some HUGE implications.

To you, you’re just casually sharing some ideas and riffing with the team.

To your team, you completely reprioritized their current projects and your cool idea is now their top priority!

If you tend to commit random acts of commentary (and thus random task assignments), you’re not having a prioritization problem…

…You’re having a team communication problem.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Break your commentary down into 3 main categories:

    Opinion: Treat this feedback as one person’s advice where title and authority should not be a factor.

    Suggestion: One step up from an opinion but not a mandate. Treat suggestions like guidelines to allow the team to have autonomy but keep them from going off the rails.

    Mandate: You’re telling the team what to do and by when.
  1. Educate your team about the commentary types.
  2. Be clear about the category and set your expectations. Additionally, train your team to ask what category a suggestion falls if you forget…you are human after all!
  3. Confirm the team heard whether it was an opinion, suggestion, or mandate.

That’s it!

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