How to Reassign–or Revamp–a Project Graciously

Brad assigned Susan the project of overhauling the supply room. Susan always seemed interested in organization, so Brad thought she would be a great candidate for the job.

Several weeks went by, and Brad only saw small progress in the room. While he was glad to see some action, he could tell that Susan wasn’t handling the task with the enthusiasm he had hoped. A quality inspection team was coming in one month and Brad needed to do something. Here’s what he did:

He talked to Susan privately.  There was no need to embarrass Susan in front of the rest of the team. She was a good worker…just not making progress on this project.

He asked questions. Brad called Susan in, and instead of making an critical statements, asked her questions such as, “Are you enjoying the project?” “What is your plan for completion?” “Is there anything you need?”

He listened. Susan shared how overwhelmed she felt by being in charge of the entire room. She knew staff members had preferences about how things were kept and didn’t feel it was right that she would be in charge of her peers in this area.

He considered Susan’s personality. Susan loved to work in the background and was usually good at doing her work. In this case though, Brad had put her in an awkward position of having to be create solutions when she would have done better with executing someone else’s creative direction.

He made modifications, with Susan’s help. Brad called the team together and presented a new direction, mentioning Susan’s suggestions that a leader type create the solution, and she and a few others would come in on a Saturday and knock the entire project out in one day. Sally, a natural leader, volunteered to come up with a new layout for the furniture and equipment in the room, and create a list of organizational supplies. Susan and some coworkers would then do the rearranging, sorting and stocking.

As a leader, Brad learned from this experience and became better at matching his team members to tasks they would love to do. Is there something you are asking a team member to do that won’t draw on his or her best strengths?

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