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Working with Tasks

To:New Hires
From:Director
Subject:Tasks; Getting Started

Tasks

Your work is divided into tasks, each of which requires one or more tasks  (assignments). These tasks will exercise your knowledge of clear questioning and communication, as well as your skills in researching, writing, and presenting.

As your director, I may choose to review your work in each task before allowing you to move onto the next one. Read all communications from me carefully. Some tasks may require written documents; others require your team to give a presentation. Check with me if you have any questions.

As your director, I have set your project deadlines. However, the responsibility of deciding how to meet the deadlines is your responsibility. You have been assigned to a group of teammates with whom you will work for the duration of the project. Within your group, you will have to determine how to tackle the work: who will research different parts of the task, who will take notes at meetings, who will present the final product, etc.

Getting Started

  1. Determine the scope of the project. For each of the deliverable you work on, start by asking yourself the following questions:
    • What exactly are we being asked to do?
    • What do we need to know in order to do it?
    • What don’t we know yet? How are we going to learn it?
    • What resources do we need to complete this task? Where can we find them?
    • What assistance or information do we need from our manager to complete this task?
    • How can we split up the work in our group?
    • How will we teach each other what we have learned?

The resulting answers will aid your team’s project management.

  1. Next, divide the labor among the members of your group, creating a work plan to keep the team on track.
    • Choose a “project manager” for your team – someone to keep the project on schedule. You can rotate this role to a different team member for future tasks.
    • Decide how you will communicate your work with each other and when you will “meet” (either in-person or online).
    • Negotiate rules of behavior for your team. If two members conflict, how will the team resolve the problem?
  2. Create a work plan. Ask your team the following questions:
    • What are the sub-tasks that need to be done in order to successfully complete this task?
    • In what order should these sub-tasks be done?
    • Who will be responsible for each sub-task?
    • How long should each sub-task take and what is its due date?
  3. Complete frequent reality checks, adjust your plan, and renegotiate as needed.
    • If, after creating your work plan, you determine that you will be unable to complete the assignment on time, first think of how you can rearrange your work plan to meet the requirements. Ask yourselves:
      • Is there a way that we can reorder the sub-tasks, so that any can be worked on simultaneously?
      • Are we doing more than what is being asked of us? If so, can we scale down our efforts so as to be sure to meet the minimum deliverables requirements first?
    • If, after trying to renegotiate your approach, you realize that you will still be unable to complete the task on time, figure out what you can have done by the due date, and then talk with your manager. It is always better to prepare a colleague in advance that you will not be able to have work done.  

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