Assigning tasks and projects to your team members is a critical component of your work as a leader, and one of the biggest drivers for how successful your team's overall performance will be. When your direct report is clear about what they are being asked to do and why, they are much more likely to deliver what you want, when you want it, and with minimal requirements for your time along the way.
So how do we make sure that our task assignment is thorough, so that our team member has the same clear picture of the task requirements as we do? A great tool exists to help us, a group of six letters - CPQQRT.
CPQQRT is six prompts for the things that you should address when briefing a team member on a new task:
Context - outline why the task exists or is required. What is the background? What previous work, situation or circumstances have already happened that have created the need for this task? What is the problem or issue we are trying to solve?
Purpose - what is the aim or objective of this task? The reason for doing it. Where Context looks at the current situation, Purpose looks ahead to what this task will achieve or produce.
Quality - what are the required for the outcomes from the task? What standard of work is required? What are the key criteria to say that the task has been successful? Here is basically where you describe what standard and form you require for the outcomes of the task.
Quantity - for some tasks this can be a tricky area, but for others it is easy. Describe how many, how much or any other measure of the outcomes. So where Quality is about the standard to which the task is completed, Quantity is about the physical measures of what is produced.
Resources - what resources does the person have the authority to use to complete this task. Think in terms of budget (money), equipment, tools, consumables, work space, vehicles, meeting rooms, computers, and of course (most importantly) people - who can they contact for assistance, and how much of other people's time they may use.
Time - how long is allowed to complete the task, and what milestones are there along the way which they must meet. Also here you should discuss how you expect them to communicate their progress with you along the way, either through formal reports, or regular verbal updates.
You might remember from the article where we discussed The Secret to Delegation in 14 Words, that is very important to either tell someone what to do, OR how to do it, but never both. The CPQQRT model fulfils the "what to do" part of this principle. Nowhere in the six parts do we talk about the method for going about the task - we are always focused on the outcomes.
Now an example of how easy but effective these prompts can be, for a job that I'm allocating - Clean Up the Workshop.
Intro - "I've got an important job for you that I'd like to run you through, let's go and have a look at the workshop."
Context - "The workshop is a mess, and we should all have pride in our workplace. There are items lying around that are creating a hazard to people walking though, and with parts all over the bench tops it is making it difficult to find things and be efficient." (Notice how context is about the current situation)
Purpose - "The workshop should be tidy, clean and orderly. The area should be safe and we should be able to find things when we need them. We should be proud to show off the area to the GM when he comes though." (Purpose is about what we want to achieve - the future state)
Quality - "I'd like to see the floor areas and bench tops clear, and all parts and tools put away in shelves, draws or lockers. I'd also like to see all these storage places labelled so that we know where things are and can put them away properly. Anything that is rubbish should be taken away. Please make sure you do a hazard analysis before you start to make sure no one gets hurt during this job." (Details of the standard we require)
Quantity - "For now I'd just like you guys to focus on the fitter's part of the workshop, from that wall, around all these bench tops, and out to this walkway." (Putting bounds on the scope of the job)
Resources - "It's you two plus I've asked Brendan to come and give you a hand this afternoon. The storeman has cleaning gear and a great labelling machine you can use. Let me know if there is any more shelving or storage that you think we should get, but at this stage we need to tidy up into what we've got."
Time - "It's up to you guys to make time through this week, obviously don't prioritize this work over breakdowns, but it is important so I'd like to check in on Friday afternoon to see how you went."
Close - "Any questions? What do you think are the hazards for this job? How could someone get hurt doing it?"
Depending on the size and importance of the task, you may deliver your task assignment either verbally or in written form. Either way, the CPQQRT model still applies. Personally though, when the task is more than just an on the spot job, I use a blank form which prompts me for each of the six parts. This helps me to get the job clear in my head, and then I can usually give that sheet to the person in charge of the task so that they don't need to rewrite everything. Email me here if you'd like a copy.
Good luck with assigning tasks to your team, try the CPQQRT model and I think you'll find it to be a great, comprehensive tool to help the process.
Mining Man - Ideas and Tips for Mining Industry Leaders
Become a fan on Facebook.
Having trouble getting your team to complete their assigned actions - check our advice here.