There are few things more important for a manager than being able to communicate effectively. Ensuring that your team members know what’s expected of them is key in being able to lead an efficient, successful, and happy team.

In this article, we will share a couple of different frameworks and techniques to choose from, take the time to choose what is appropriate for your team's needs.

There are two main things required of you as a leader. First, you need to set a prioritization framework, whether it is MoSCoW, RICE or Value vs Effort (or something else entirely) you need to identify what works best for your team. Second, you need to clearly communicate the framework and process. Remember to stick to your guns, it is all about consistency, repeat yourself as often as needed to help create a deep understanding of the process in order to allow for a strong and sticky adoption. Ultimately you want to make yourself redundant from the process so your team is confident in prioritization on their own and you can step in to help only when needed.

Frameworks

  1. Value vs effort

  2. OKRs

Value vs Effort

This is a general framework that can be applied to various teams across the business. Whether you are working on features, initiatives, or implementation you can use this as a starting point to align the team and prioritize together.

Here are two options, a grid or a scorecard:

When using the grid you can either use post-it notes or if remote a miro board with digital post-its.

Similarly, with the scorecard, you can simply write down the numbers and calculate the score manually.

For this team activity you should:

  • Give everyone 5-10 minutes to brainstorm ideas

  • Go around the group one by one and place your ideas on the grid or list on the scorecard. Do not dive into the details here, just simply read out the idea with a short explanation

  • Once all ideas are added you can cluster ideas that are similar or merge them

  • It is now time to discuss the ideas as a team and see whether you all agree or disagree on the placement of impact vs effort - allow a bit of time here to dive a little deeper into the details. Ask team members to tell you which assumptions they made when assessing the value and effort

  • Finally, once you have all ideas placed/ scored and agreed - it is time to select which one you have the capacity to work on in the upcoming weeks/ months/ quarter. Take into careful consideration the resources you have available and other cross-team projects.

The goal at the end is to have agreed and committed team initiatives, the next step is breaking these down into individual tasks and adding them to your team project space (eg: Asana).

This simple framework is a way to help you and the team visualize team priorities together and should be repeated regularly to ensure the decision-making is accurate to the current state.

OKRs

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a goal-setting framework (read more here). The purpose of having these in place is to create clarity and alignment at all levels of the business.

How can company OKRs help you with prioritization as a team? Company OKRs serve as a North Star for all teams. Everything teams work on should ultimately be contributing towards achieving your company OKRs.

This should be the guide for your team, the question when brainstorming and prioritizing should always be ‘Does this contribute to the company OKRs?’. If the answer is no, you should consider if it is something worth doing or not.

NB: You can use any goal-setting framework to guide you, OKRs is only one option.

Once the brainstorming is complete you still need to prioritize what the team should work on first. One way to do this is by using ranking numbers such as P0, P1, P2, and so on and so forth to indicate which tasks need to be completed first where a score of zero is the most urgent.

We recommend embedding this into your project planning workflow, whether it is weekly sprints or quarterly scoping, this process is not stand alone, it should be integrated into your regular workflows.

Communication tips

In this section, we will share a few questions you should consider and ensure the answers are clear for all team members.

Set clear expectations - give clear and direct instructions and allow for questions to clarify any concerns.

  • What does it mean when a task is assigned to someone?

  • What standard of quality do you expect?

  • How should people keep and communicate status updates?

  • What is the definition of done?

Be clear of the goal, purpose, target

  • What is the goal of this task?

  • What impact can this task have if done well?

  • How will you know when it is successful? Ie: Key results

Create accountability

  • Get people to write down what is expected of them when assigned a task

  • Create goals if needed to track progress

Check back in

  • Be available for questions as projects kick-off

  • Set time aside in 1:1 conversations to go over assigned tasks

  • Use regular team meetings to flesh out any challenges/ blockers

  • Make time to celebrate the wins big or small

As a leader, you should drive this process, hold people accountable, and provide support where needed. This will take time so be patient, invest time, and make time to celebrate the small wins along the way. Good luck!

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