“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” The famous quote of Dwight D. Eisenhower can be undoubtedly applied to any area of life, whether personal or professional.
It definitely holds true in the IT industry. During the planning process teams establish what needs to be done in the next iteration. They set the goal for the Sprint and the Sprint Backlog items. Planning helps to provide a clear roadmap for a team, outlining the tasks that need to be completed and the goals that need to be achieved. Without a clear plan, a team can easily become disorganized, directionless, and demotivated. On the other hand, a well-planned project sets clear expectations, establishes priorities, and helps team members stay focused and motivated. It also enables them to identify potential bottlenecks and address them beforehand, reducing the risk of project delays and failures.
Every project manager has likely asked themselves: “How to make the planning process more effective?” Today, we’d like to share the solution that works for us: increase the engagement of the entire team.
Studies show that only 15% of the workforce identifies themselves as engaged. The consequences? Disengaged employees are less productive, less likely to meet deadlines, and less committed to the team’s goals. This can lead to delays, poor-quality work, and ultimately, project failure. According to Gallup research, employee disengagement costs the United States upwards of $550 billion a year in lost productivity.
We believe that in order to prevent that, it’s important to involve employees from the very start of a project. And the planning process is where everything begins. By engaging team members in it, you make them feel more invested and more likely to stay committed throughout it.
With this in mind, we will now present three effective strategies that you can implement to increase the engagement and involvement of your team in the planning process.
Assign tasks properly
We believe that you can unlock the full potential of your team by strategically assigning tasks and projects that align with their skills, strengths, and passions. This approach not only boosts engagement in the planning process but also creates a culture of ownership and accountability within your team, as team members feel that their contribution is valuable and meaningful. When they are given the opportunity to work on tasks that interest them, challenge them, and allow them to grow and develop, they are much more likely to be motivated and engaged.
Additionally, when distributing tasks, try to consider whether:
- the tasks are diverse and require using multiple skills,
- the assigned tasks are identifiable,
- you involve employees in contact with internal and external stakeholders,
- you engage the team in sharing the responsibility.
Plan your projects with software that allows simultaneous editing
Depending on your needs, you can choose tools that are integrated with Jira or independent ones. An example of a Jira-external tool can be Miro, a digital whiteboarding and collaboration platform that allows teams to work together remotely and visually. Miro’s digital whiteboard allows users to create and share diagrams, mind maps, user flows, and other visualizations that can be used to brainstorm ideas, organize information, and plan projects.
If you work in Jira on a daily basis, you might want to consider an internal tool that can be integrated with it, such as Team Planner – Resource Planning for Jira. It’s a Jira app where you can create a plan and visualize the availability and workload of team members, allocate resources to tasks, and make informed decisions based on the team’s capacity and availability. Team members can collaborate on the plan together in real time – everyone can edit it simultaneously and the changes will be immediately reflected on the plan’s timeline.
A planning app allows team members to contribute their ideas and input to the planning process more easily. Being able to edit the document at the same time helps to foster a sense of collaboration and inclusivity, making people more engaged in the process. This can help eliminate communication gaps or delays that could occur, if they were working on different versions of the document. In addition, collaborative work on a shared document enables team members to identify and resolve issues, assign tasks, and track progress more efficiently. This can significantly reduce the amount of time spent on tedious administrative tasks that are not directly related to the job, and allow more time for creative thinking and problem-solving. As a result, team members can approach the planning process with more enthusiasm and engagement, leading to a higher level of satisfaction with the project overall.
Set clear goals and expectations
The third strategy we recommend to boost team engagement in the planning process is to set clear goals and expectations. They will give team members a sense of direction and purpose, which helps to keep them focused and motivated. Having a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what they are working towards, makes them more likely to be engaged in the planning process and committed to achieving the project’s objectives. Additionally, it can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal, which can reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings, conflicts, or delays in the project. Team members can then be empowered to take ownership of their work, make informed decisions, and collaborate more effectively with their colleagues. When setting a goal, remember these factors:
- Clarity – your goal should be clear and understandable.
- Challenge – your goal should be challenging but feasible.
- Commitment – employees should believe in the goal and be committed to it.
- Feedback – to keep people motivated, you should give them regular feedback.
- Task complexity – the goal shouldn’t be overly complex.
Inappropriate goals can have unintended consequences: they can demotivate employees, reduce efficiency, and even harm customers and other departments in the company.
Remember that everyone should clearly understand the goal itself, the steps that are necessary to achieve it, as well as the steps that need to be taken, if the goal is not achieved.
Engaging team members in the planning process can greatly improve the effectiveness of the project. Proper planning is essential for a team’s success, as it provides a clear roadmap for the tasks that need to be completed and the goals that need to be achieved. This article presents three strategies to increase team engagement during the planning process. These are: matching the right people with the right tasks, using planning software that allows simultaneous editing, and setting clear goals and expectations. By doing so, you can create a collaborative work environment, where team members can share their ideas and input and work together efficiently.