Here at Digital Awesome, we run a pretty tight ship. Frequent, tight deadlines are pretty normal for our team. Balancing multiple clients at one time and keeping focused on exceeding expectations can be a bit overwhelming.

Through our years of experience, we have learned some valuable communication principles that have helped us to keep our hair, keep our jobs and most importantly keep our clients extremely happy.

Principle #1: Define Roles and Goals on day one

A lot of miscommunication happens during project development. Every player has their perception of expectations and goals. It’s important to define exactly what role each player has in the grand scheme. That includes the client. Write a document and clearly define exactly who is in charge of the budget, timeline, development, testing, communication, documentation, decisions, etc.

Another important and typically skipped conversation is the goals of the project. This could be mutually clear between the business analyst and the client but every player on the team has the right and need to understand the goals of the project.

Define a 1-2 page goals definition and present it to the entire team. This should include timeline, budget, expectations, and results.

If the goal of the project is to prove a concept then we want the developers and Quality assurance team sharing the goal of good-enough.

Principle #2: Make Mistakes

Agile development is fast. That’s why it’s so attractive. But with the fast development cycle comes mistakes. Timeline mishaps, feature misunderstandings, and bugs are part of the process. Embrace these as part of the process or plan on having a really hard time.

Encourage your team to make mistakes and openly discuss these mistakes. The last thing you want is to create a culture of blame. Encourage your team to innovate and try new things that may lead to huge successes or minor failures.

Teach the client to understand that Agile is an iterative approach. Features don’t start gold plated and working perfectly. Help them understand this is a great thing. The flexibility in pivoting and change management is incredible when Agile is done right.

Principle #3: Feedback and Retrospectives

Feedback is the best thing you can give and receive. Don’t just wait until the end of the project to give feedback and reflect on the project. Start this process right away.

Do not shy away from giving real feedback to your team. Don’t shy away from giving feedback to your clients either. Feedback is the only way team members can understand expectations.

Giving feedback early and often will help to give everyone a clear understanding of expectations and help individuals improve and grow.

Don’t forget to ask for feedback either. Become an effective leader requires that you take feedback and, yes, even criticism.

Retrospectives are critical to becoming an effective team. Holding regular retrospective meetings with your team can help you uncover issues and misunderstandings early before they become real issues. Retrospectives can also help you save a project from disaster as we’ve seen before.

Ask your team for solutions and suggestions on how to improve the development process. You’ll be blown away with what comes out of it.

These three principles have helped us to create strong, energetic teams that exceed our client’s expectations every day. Follow these principles in your projects and you will have a stronger and better functioning team.

The goal is all about improving the process and growing.