Corporate Path Leadership ends up facilitating, consulting and participating in over 100 team projects and programs each year. And each year we see stellar successes, and spectacular failures.

The key difference in outcome? Clear and organized team direction.

Too often, a busy leader has enough time to send out an email about a new initiative, or bring the topic up in a meeting, but does not feel like they have enough time for follow up. In these situations, team members don’t clearly know yet what their role is in the program/project. Some may wait for additional direction before taking action. Meanwhile another employee may think that they should take action immediately, but not understand what action they should take, or when. Both may be afraid to ask for clarification, so as not to seem incompetent in front of their boss.

In these cases, the leader thinks that they have sufficiently explained the scope of the issue and what needs to be done — only to find out that a month later the project has made little traction, and the steps that have been started aren’t filling the needs of the vision for the initiative. At this point frustration sinks in for all parties.

So how can you avoid this situation, or successfully press the rewind button to get a lost program back on track? Be clear on the two key concepts — explanation and confirmation.

Why Explanation Matters

We all understand the meaning of the term ‘explanation’ but how to apply this step in your team planning efforts may not be as clear. Explanation must have the following components:

Documentation of the plan.

It might be clear in your head, but if the ideas aren’t written down, there is little chance that the details behind the ideas will be absorbed by your team. Take part of a morning or afternoon to write down a thorough explanation of the initiative from your perspective. Then have someone trusted read it and offer enhancement suggestions.

Delivery of documentation prior to any meetings.

This gives your team members time to read and think about what’s on the horizon before gathering as a group. They’ll be more prepared to discuss the plan, and can bring ideas proactively to that meeting.

Thorough and formal discussion of the idea.

The only way to make sure that everyone truly understands the concept you are proposing is to hash through it with you. This is a great opportunity to expose any “warts” that may surface later.

Why Confirmation Matters

There are several critical confirmation components:

Confirmation of the initiative itself.

This might sound silly, but we’ve experienced several instances where an idea was presented without any validation or confirmation from the audience, leading to people being overheard saying, “that’s not going to work” to a colleague as they left the room Circumvent this trap door by going around the room to ask each person which pieces of the program they support and where they still have questions. Do not move forward until there is consensus on the merit of the initiative.

Confirmation of what role each participant will play.

Just because the team is on board with your plan doesn’t mean that it will magically complete. Take the time to make sure that each team member involved with the plan knows their role within it.

Confirmation of key milestones/action items.

Not all of the actions associated with the initiative will be known during your kick-off meeting. However, you shouldn’t end the kick-off session without getting alignment on key milestones and approximate timing from the group.

Follow up email communication and documentation.

Shortly after the meeting, send a follow-up email that reiterates all roles, decisions, and milestones/actions discussed in the launch meeting, and set a date for first status meeting. Encourage all team members to raise any issues or questions prior to the first status meeting. This sets the stage for team accountability while providing clear and organized direction.

These steps are easy to implement. And the time you spend upfront will be far less than time you’d spend during implementation phases chasing down answers and re-guiding parts of the
initiative that have gone off the rails. For an even more thorough guide to successful initiatives, re-read our previous blog post, Five “Must Have” Leadership Planning Stages to Keep Even the Most Fast-Tracked Projects on Task.

Do you need more direction or ideas to help your programs succeed? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a note at

Contact Us Today

We make it easy to jump start success. Simply contact us and share your current team challenge or need, and we’ll respond with program ideas to innovate your team performance.

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