When growing a team, implementing new processes, or even when scoping a new project where you feel you have a clear outcome you’d like to see, it can be so tempting to tell yourself that you “just wish the team could read your mind”, or that the team would just “know how to follow the process” or “know what to look for during code review”. The part that’s often left off of these thoughts is “without me needing to explain it”, which is often the starting point for where our thinking falls short. Turning your team into mind readers is very possible, though. Lets unpack how. Spoilers; it starts with you.
Explaining yourself is the name of the game, here. If you don’t communicate, no-one will know what results you expect to see. In this age of increased distributed work, where written communication is now consumed at a much higher volume, it’s now a critical skill to be able to explain what you’d like to see, and what you’re thinking about when implementing a new process, or embarking on something new. If you look for specific flags while conducting a code review, or look in particular at spelling and grammar when reviewing someone’s writing, make a note of that, and share that with your team.
It’s okay to be really specific, and to be on point without being long-winded. Clarity is key, as these are your thoughts, after all. If your thoughts aren’t clear, the team will likely find it more difficult to decipher your requests, which usually leads to an unclear outcome.
It’s also important to open up space for the team to add their input. This isn’t a one-person show, and everyone has value to add from their own unique perspective. Explaining oneself is the first step to building this culture (setting the standard for communication, and encouraging others to communicate their perspectives).
In summary, get your thoughts and expectations down on paper/blog/email/instant message, and get them clear. Focus on outcomes you’d like to see, rather than “how” the outcome is achieved. If there are key aspects to the “how” which could lead to further complications, definitely mention them, though.
Once your thoughts are written and shared, whomever you share those thoughts with is literally reading your mind.
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