Stop Being Vague

When assigning tasks, you’ve got to stop being vague. This is one of the basic principles you need to learn in order to manage projects effectively.

The key to do this is always apply who does what by when principle.

This is more important especially if you’re working with other people for the first time and you don’t have a good grasp of your how each other work.

Mind Your Words

Let’s say you’re discussing a marketing campaign. You need to create a PDF lead magnet, publish several blog posts, send emails, post on social media, and analyze the performance.

Typical words you’d hear would be “let’s do this…” or “maybe what we can do is…”

First, it doesn’t follow the rule of three. Second, this is great during brainstorming. But pitching in ideas isn’t enough. Remember, ideas or suggestions are similar to plans. They are useless unless put to action.

Clarify Using the Golden Rule

When you’re managing a project, you have to be absolutely clear on who does what by when.

That means if a decision has been made to do the task, you have to be explicit.

During a meeting, it might go like this:

You: What topics do you have in mind for this campaign?

Team: Let’s do this. Let’s do that. What about this…

Jane: I think we should do ABC

You: I love it. Let’s do that. What about XYZ?

Let’s stop right here.

When you make a decision to do something, you have to be clear.

So, who’s going to do the task ABC and by when should they do it?

In your head, you might think Jane is going to do it. But to her, it’s not clear.

What happens is throughout the week, no one is working on the task. Come next week’s meeting, you ask for a status report and you get frustrated that no one is working. So you assign it to Jane and finish it within the next two days.

Now, Jane is also frustrated because you are blaming her for not doing the work when it wasn’t assigned to her in the first place.

Avoid this headache by being crystal clear in the first place.

Assumptions Won’t Get You Anywhere

The scenario above happens millions of times daily across the entire professional world. If you want to avoid the headaches and bring up unnecessary emotions, make sure you fill in the blanks: who does what by when.

Clarity drives behavior. Behavior are actions. Actions get your plans executed.

That is what will help you succeed.

And if you’re on the other side and your boss (or project leader) is vague, raise your hand and ask the question “so who’s going to handle that task? when is the deadline?” before you move to the next part of the discussion.

Do this a few times and sooner or later, your boss will realize that he/she needs to do this as well.

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