November 2, 2023
Stop asking your team for project updates. It's bad practice.
When you ask a team member about a project's progress, their answers are often vague and unclear. They might give a general update or say they're waiting on someone else. But it doesn't predictably offer the depth or clarity necessary to assess genuine progress or clarify the next steps. This only gives you a partial picture.
So, what’s a better way?
Enter the 'Next Action' question methodology — A simple yet powerful shift that will expedite productivity and increase transparency on project progress.
At its core, a Next Action refers to the immediate, concrete step required to move a project forward. It's straightforward and removes any confusion, making tasks easy to act on without overthinking.
A well-defined Next Action might be something like "Follow up with John on Nov.3" or "Review the initial draft."
To read more about Next Actions and how they work, Click Here.
The power of asking for Next Actions
By asking for their 'Next Action', you push them to share their next actionable step. This achieves two things:
- Provides Clarity: It helps the team member crystallize their next steps, eliminating vagueness. If they're unsure or vague about the Next Action, it's an instant red flag that they might be stuck or uncertain. If so, time to dig deeper.
- Ensures Accountability: The responsibility for a project's progress always lies with its owner. Even if they're awaiting input from someone else, their Next Action should be to follow-up by X date. By focusing on Next Actions, you underscore that the onus of progress always remains in their hands.
Additionally, adopting this approach promotes a proactive mindset. It empowers your team to think ahead, act decisively, and assume responsibility. It's a win-win for productivity and accountability.
Over time, they’ll get better at setting and clarifying their own Next Actions.
Go ahead and try it:
- Transition from asking "How's the project going?" to "What's your Next Action?"
- Integrate a 'Next Action' field in your project management software
- Encourage team members to regularly define their Next Actions
See you all next Thursday 👋
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