Misassumptions are those uncomfortable “Gotchas” which surface when your team has made a big “Oops” – output riddled with errors requiring rework.
Misassumptions occur when everyone involved in the execution of a project “assumes” that each team member shares the same perspective, interpretation and vision of what that project output looks like.
You know you are managing misassumptions when:
- Each team member creates throughput as though they are working in a vacuum.
- Your hand-offs from discipline to discipline are not accompanied by team validation of that particular throughput activity.
- Your team functions as firefighters, reacting to mistakes rather than proactively anticipating mistakes prior to the project start.
- Your team doesn’t ask you, their manager, for advice or insight. Even when the project starts going off-course.
- Your management activities focus solely on meeting KPIs and metrics instead of leading activities involved in your team’s achieving service excellence.
Managing misassumptions is avoidable. You can overcome status quo habits plaguing your team by creating team-centric processes focused on:
- Meeting prior to project start to set up a dictionary of terminology that will be used during the project.
- Playing “what if?” to determine scenarios which can undermine the project timeline and deliverables.
- Identifying potential team member misassumptions at each phase of the project: what does throughput look like to everyone seated around your team’s table?
- Conducting a brief, daily review of what everyone’s workload should look like, instead of only meeting as a team when there is a problem.
- Pursuing excellence in quality of throughput, together as a team, in case your daily workload starts going off-course.
- Relentlessly questioning management practices responsible for creating past “Gotchas” and “Oops.”
What would you add to this list?
Manage by taking your team out of piece-work mindset. Instead, place them in ongoing roles throughout a project. You no longer will be managing misassumptions. You will facilitate stronger team communication as well.
When the team gives each other permission to relentlessly question each other, they keep themselves on their toes. Their project attention span increases from “that’s not my job anymore” to “I didn’t realize that is what happens when I hand off my throughput to you.”
Everyone starts to grow their leadership skill sets by communicating, listening, observing and executing. Everyone starts to take team pride in service excellence.
Managing misassumptions is a profitability killer. It is an employee morale killer as well. Why keep your team in the dark and your numbers in the red?
My advice: Manage for leadership instead. Everyone’s leadership: your team’s and your own.
Babette Ten Haken started out her career as a scientist. Early on, she was asked to bring clarity to the chaos of stalemated conversations between engineers, sales, IT, quality, legal and marketing folks. She focuses on building collaborative, innovative and profitable teams who are focused on excellence in the hand-off of strategy for execution. Her Playbook on leadership and business strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.