Share the Vision

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Share The Vision

Jared Richardson Morrisville, North Carolina, USA

Do you work with idiots? Do your team members want to bankrupt the company? Sometimes it feels that way, but it's usually not the case. The truth is, everyone wants to succeed and feel proud of their contributions, no matter how much it appears that they're trying to sabotage your project. They are doing what they think is the right thing, but everyone has their own idea of what "right" is.

As the software project manager, how do get everyone working together? Know that most teams labor in darkness. They don't know why this project matters, how it fits into the company's larger strategy, or why the deadline is June 17th. Since they don't understand why certain decisions were made, the choices appear arbitrary and irrational. Everyone struggles, trying to form a clear vision of this murky situation without any definitive information to help them. Should we be surprised that everyone see a different end goal to the project?

To clear away the fog, you need to share with your team the key pieces of data that will make them knowledgeable about your common endeavor. Let them know that the project needs to ship in mid- June to beat a competitor's product to market by three weeks. Help them understand that this project fills a need in a larger corporate strategy to expand internationally, or that your customer is counting on it to shore up dwindling profits from their existing, but aging, product line.

Be careful, if you’re new at sharing information. As the conduit of information for your team, you'll also be shaping the team's morale. When you decide to gripe about another group or manager, or a member of your team, your negative attitude can spread through your team as quickly as the flu. And, like a viral infection, it can slow your team’s verve for days.

A great way to share project information is to hold a daily meeting. Teams with 10 people or so can meet effectively in as little as 10 - 20 minutes. Each person has a one to two minutes opportunity to bring the team up-to-date on their own progress and ask for help, if they need it. These quick "stand ups" are the perfect place for the software project manager to share project updates.

When you opt for a weekly (or monthly) meeting, you may forget important information. After all, it’s old news to you by the time the group finally assembles. Or a problem, which could have been prevented, blows up because you delayed sharing risk indicators. Perhaps the team will glaze over after you've shared 17 bits of “vital” information all stuffed into one, bloated team talk.

Remember, your team, and everyone at your company, wants to succeed. Share your vision and ask others to share theirs. You’ll find most of those idiots you thought were out to close the company are actually people who will work side-by-side with you to solve mutually understood team challenges.

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