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5 Tips to Navigate Your Role in a new Communications Project

Embarking on a new communications project can be like hopping onto a moving train – a bit overwhelming. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newcomer, understanding the lay of the land is crucial for success. Let’s break it down in simple language.

Get the lay of the land

Understanding the project’s current status is your starting point. Is it already in full swing, or are they playing catch-up? Knowing this sets the stage for your role. Additionally, take note of when you were brought into the discussion – the earlier, the better. Early involvement signals they value your role, while late entry might mean they’re catching up on communication needs.

Be aware of internal politics

If you’re working remotely, it can be trickier to gauge office politics. Pay attention to who owns the initiative and how much influence they have in decision-making. Listen carefully to narratives about ownership and influence, helping you understand the internal power dynamics at play.

Autonomy and role dynamics

Check how much autonomy you have in decision-making. Understand how your role is perceived and if it’s respected within the project. Avoid overlaps with others’ responsibilities; respect boundaries to maintain a smooth collaboration.

Building relationships

Give autonomy to your team members; it’s about collaboration, not control. Gain buy-in for your ideas to ensure smooth implementation. Define what “good” looks like right from the start to align expectations.

Understanding the environment

Gain insights into the organizational culture and adapt your communication style accordingly. As a contractor, know your role, stay engaged, be adaptable, and contribute positively.

Checklist for navigating your role

CategoryDescriptionStatus (Started/Completed/In Progress/Paused)
Identify Key StakeholdersUnderstand their interests and perceptions about your function. 
Learn Internal ProcessesKnow how things work inside the organization. 
Timing MattersUnderstand when to present information and how to do it effectively. 
Initiate IntroductionsBe proactive in meeting key players and understand the message they convey about you. 
Feedback HandlingKnow how to receive feedback graciously. 
Closing the LoopFollow up on feedback. Show that you value input and make necessary adjustments. 
Final Product ExpectationsUnderstand what a finished product looks like in their eyes. 
Dynamics and PoliticsBe aware of internal power dynamics and office politics. 
Engage with PeersFoster positive relationships with colleagues. 
Identify the SponsorKnow who holds influence and supports your role. 

Remember, it’s not just about the work you do; it’s also about how you navigate the human side of projects. Use this checklist to steer your course effectively and contribute meaningfully to the project’s success.

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