So, you have a task, and you can’t do it yourself.
You’re busy, you’re a leader – you need to delegate.
Whether you’re delegating to a team member, or hiring an external expert, you’ll need to make sure the person doing the work understands what you want, when you want it, and most importantly, why you want it.
Lets start there.
1. Be clear on the desired outcomes
Why does this project need to happen?
Have you tried something like this before? If so, why didn’t it work?
Reflect on what your objective and expectations are. Without knowing your endgame, you won’t be able to articulate your project to the people you’ve hired to actually execute the thing.
The results you want to achieve need to be clear, or else the person doing the work will not understand what they’re aiming for.
We all struggle sometimes to express ourselves – sometimes we don’t know what to say at all, and sometimes we do, but don’t know how to say it clearly.
2. Consider audience knowledge
Who are you targeting with your new project? Is your brief a message for an entire team, or just one person? Do you need to explain the project to a whole management team?
How much knowledge do they have on the subject already? Try to avoid the common ‘curse of knowledge’ conundrum, and never assume that everyone knows as much as you do on a topic.
With this in mind, you should try and be as specific as possible when writing your brief.
Personally, I often see myself putting more information than necessary into briefs. Time and time again, I’ve sent emails that almost literally spell out tasks to my colleagues. It might take a bit longer, but including all the information you have can save you a lot of time down the line.
3. Listen to feedback
Following on from the above, it would be prudent of you to listen to your colleagues’ feedback. All stakeholders involved will have an opinion, whether they express it or not.
The key here? Ask them.
Ask the people you’re delegating the work to, whether they have any ideas to improve your project. If they can think of (and prove) a better way to do something, let your pride out of the window and listen to them.
This particular leadership skill is priceless for two reasons. It will open avenues you might not have considered, and it will increase motivation within your staff.
We all like being listened to.
4. The ‘WHY’ – does it fit with your strategy?
So, you have an idea.
Whether it is a genius new marketing campaign, an innovative HR initiative, or you just want to get those posh biscuits into the meeting room, you need to make sure you know why you’re embarking on this great adventure.
Will the marketing campaign reach your target audience and bring in new leads? Does the new HR tool save your employees time booking holidays or sending emails? Do the biscuits really taste as gorgeous as you remember them being?
There is no point wasting time on something that doesn’t support the development of your organisation. As a business owner or leader, you should already be used to considering your professional values before making any decision.
If your project does not support your organisations short- or long-term goals, it is not worth doing.
5. Show some examples
Now, this isn’t always possible. But in our manic business climate, it’s fairly safe to say that most of your ideas… Have been done before.
This doesn’t make them useless – in fact, the opposite is likely true. If another organisation in your industry has tried something before, they must have seen enough value in it to invest time and money into completing that project.
If you’re trying something new internally, try to find examples of other companies doing similar things. See if they had any obvious, tangible success with their project.
If your idea is truly brand new, then make sure you highlight the potential risks associated with it. How will your organisation’s audience react to it?
This exercise has been called an ‘acid test’, and it will help you decide whether your project idea is worth your time.
As a business leader, you should be aware any obstacles that could stand in your way. Seeing what other people have done can be huge here.
Even if your idea has been done before, learn from it and do it better.
6. Know how you’ll track results
Let’s say your brief is written well, you’ve addressed all of the above points, and you’ve communicated your goals as clearly as possible to your stakeholders.
How will you track the performance of your new project?
There’s no point doing something unless you can prove it has benefitted your organisation.
Make sure you will have access to the data needed to support your project – whether it is the click-through-rate of a marketing email, engagement/traffic from social media or web content, or feedback from surveys, have something tangible to look at your results with.
Remember, even failure has value – if one of your initiatives falls flat on its face, consider it a learning curve. You now know what works and what doesn’t.
7. (BONUS TIP) Include your brand values
This tip is mainly for when you’re creating briefs for external experts. If you’re hiring someone from outside your company to perform a task, it is essential that you include background information about your organisation.
External teams will almost certainly be handling several client projects at the same time, so they’ll need to know as much as possible.
No, I don’t just mean copy and paste the URL to your ‘About Us’ page. Rather, you should tailor your brand introduction to the project you’re paying them to do.
Write a few general sentences about your company and your values, and then a paragraph on why these have values led you to the project at hand.
So, there you have it.
Project management is a huge part of running or managing a business. No one is born with leadership skills – they’re learnt, through trial, error, and understanding fundamental principles.
Writing briefs can be difficult, but if you follow these steps, your next project will be a winner.
Written by John Davis – Marketing Executive
Impellus is a UK-wide provider of management, leadership and core commercial skills training. See our relevant courses:
Management & Leadership Skills
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