Eight Questions to be Proactive Rather than Reactive

How many times have you or your team started working on something only to realize you were headed in the wrong direction?  Not only is all the time you spent wasted; in some cases you have to spend more time undoing it so you can start again.  Maybe you thought you understood and didn't.  Maybe you actually did understand but the requirements changed and nobody told you.  Regardless of what happened it is frustrating, annoying and not good for anybody when it occurs.

The very simple (and I think trite) answer you hear to this problem is "make sure you understand the requirements up front".  Well yeah, that isn't rocket science.  But how?  None of us goes off in the wrong direction on purpose.

I am going to share eight questions you can ask yourself, your boss and your team in any situation.  Individually they are not particularly earth shattering.  As a group, if you take the time to get solid answers to each of them, I can guarantee you will spend less time firefighting and being reactive and more time being productive and proactive.

  1. Do I understand the specific expectations of this project (i.e. do I know the end goal)? 
  2. Do I understand the path the leader (boss, stakeholders, etc) expects to be taken (i.e. do I know the plan)?
  3. Do I have a clear understanding of what success looks like to the leader (i.e. will I know when I am successfully finished)?
  4. Do I know where this project falls on the priority list, who has the authority to change that priority and how I will be notified if it changes?
  5. Is there an agreed upon plan in place so we know when/how and what types of issues/concerns should be escalated and how much freedom we have to solve things on our own?
  6. Do I know how changes in scope/requirements will be communicated?  Is there a date at which changes will no longer be accepted?
  7. Have I communicated my understanding of the above information to the leader and received his/her agreement that we are on the same page?
  8. Have I communicated the above information to my team and listened to/answered their questions and concerns?

I can almost hear your brain thinking - "It would take a lot of time to gather and then disseminate answers to all of those questions."  I will grant you it might take a day or two and a few emails or phone calls to make it happen.  But certainly it is all information you will need during the project.  It is better to learn all of it upfront rather than figuring it out because there is suddenly an emergency due to miscommunication.

If you feel like you are constantly chasing your tail or putting out fires, take the time to ask these questions.  Having the answers will make your life much easier.

Share a comment about a time you didn't have these answers and what happened.  Or maybe you have time saving questions to add to the list.  The point of these blogs is to empower each other to succeed.

As always, I wish you the MOST from your potential!

Doc Robyn

Dr. Robyn Odegaard (aka “Doc Robyn”) is internationally known conflict resolution expert, motivational speaker and executive coach.  As CEO of Champion Performance Development, she works with executives, professionals, athletes, and coaches to help them achieve excellence in all aspects of life through active leadership, powerful teamwork, effective communication, Productive Conflict™ and professional disagreement skills.  She is the founder of the Stop The Drama! Campaign and author of the books Stop The Drama! The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams and The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time.  To work with her one-on-one, have her present to your team, request a custom workshop or invite her to speak at your event, email her at DocRobyn@ChampPerformance.com or call 302-307-3091.

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