Starting a project is easy. You have a clean slate, a goal in mind, and the sky’s the limit. Each new addition to the project is laced with satisfaction as you forge your way towards the finished product.
But then something changes.
Somewhere along the line (usually a few months after an initial debut), work on the project turns into a chore. The change requests become tiresome and the nit-picking becomes laborious. Everyone seems to have an opinion and no one seems to agree on what they want. Your project is lacking vision.
As a team member working on a project at this stage, it’s easy to start asking pressing questions: from the simple “What are we working on next?” all the way to the lofty “What’s the point?” It’s the leader’s job is to provide this vision, but they can easily misplace and mis-time the dosage.
Here’s a common situation: it’s 10:30am, Tuesday morning. The weekend is starting to (or has already) worn off. The coffee has been poured, the task list gone over. It’s go-time. The team member is heads down; thoughts held captive by today’s work and problems.
DING! “Long-term product strategy meeting”, the meeting reminder chides.
To be clear, the issue here is not with the meeting itself. The issue I want to focus on is the timing. As an interruption, the discussion of long-term planning can easily come across as simply a litany of more tasks, laid upon an already burdened team. But done right (and at the right time), you have the potential to realign and refocus your weary team on what matters most.
So what’s the solution? How do you properly encourage your team, cast vision, and create buy-in and yet simultaneously leave them alone to get their work done?
Providing vision for a team is an absolute necessity. Pay attention to work flow and weekly cycles of your team. Make sure to give them the roadmap at the right time – when they’re out of the weeds and they’re able to see clearly the direction you plan to take them.
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