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.
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
|Status (Started/Completed/In Progress/Paused)
|Identify Key Stakeholders
|Understand their interests and perceptions about your function.
|Learn Internal Processes
|Know how things work inside the organization.
|Understand when to present information and how to do it effectively.
|Be proactive in meeting key players and understand the message they convey about you.
|Know how to receive feedback graciously.
|Closing the Loop
|Follow up on feedback. Show that you value input and make necessary adjustments.
|Final Product Expectations
|Understand what a finished product looks like in their eyes.
|Dynamics and Politics
|Be aware of internal power dynamics and office politics.
|Engage with Peers
|Foster positive relationships with colleagues.
|Identify the Sponsor
|Know 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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