In every project, the devil is in the details. Taking things for granted is one sure way to ensure a project goes off the rails. To assume that a task will get done, or that the quality of the task execution is satisfactory, creates the potential for failure. Of course, you can’t be everywhere all of the time. Priorities will dictate where you belong at any particular point in a project. Once you decide where that is, GO THERE. Communicate with the people that are involved. Don’t just send an email and assume the task will be completed at a satisfactory quality level or wait until the next cross-functional team meeting to ask about the task so you can cross it off of a list. The best way to show how important something should be to someone else is for them to see it was important enough for you to come out from behind your computer screen or your Red/Yellow/Green “program management coloring books”.
It’s alright to email an open issues list to the team or keep it stored on some cloud file-sharing network. It’s alright, but it’s not enough. You have an issues list with 147 items on it and 17 different people are on the list as responsible for closing one or more of the issues. You expect the team members to run through several pages of the list, find every occurrence of their name, do the work to close the issue and still do their functional group job. Every now and then, if it’s that important to you why not sort for an individual’s name and leave the much more focused list on their chair before office hours in the morning and then give them a call at 8:30 or 9:00am for a direct discussion about prioritizing their issues (and ONLY their issues)? You might even stop by instead of calling. This hyper-communication is necessary. By taking these actions you’ve: a) told the person how important you think their time is by sorting or highlighting the list for them, b) informed them how important this is to you by having the list on their chair before the start of the normal work day, and c) secured a personal commitment by calling or visiting. Not only that, but it gives you credibility to remind them that the list is stored in a shared location and it would be helpful if they checked it with some frequency.
It might not be immediately obvious that these actions are related to communication, but it’s all about MBWA (managing-by-walking-around). It’s about organic interaction of carbon-based life-forms (i.e. two people talking). You can assign far more tasks to an individual in 15 minutes of emailing that most mere mortals can accomplish in a week. You are the leader. You must make decisions and set priorities for your team. If everything’s hot, nothing’s hot. If you act like you were anointed to govern instead of elected to represent you will have a great deal of difficulty earning the credibility with your team to ever be granted the status of “leader”. Simply firing over a pile of assignments and expecting that someone will prioritize them to match your perception of what is needed to get the job done is both optimistic and unrealistic.
If you neither create nor destroy information, then what is your role on the team? Acting as an email sorter/delegator will not earn you the respect of your team. Look at it this way: if your team is responsible for donating to a breakfast, they want to know if you are a chicken or a pig. A chicken just lays an egg and moves on. A pig has a whole different level of commitment to the breakfast. They will be as committed as you are. Get in the trenches, roll up your sleeves and communicate open and often.