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7 Career Saving Questions to Ask Before You Start a New Project

Want your project to fail? Just sit back and just let things happen. But I’m going to guess you care about this project. And not only about your project, but its people, and your career. That means it’s time to sit down with your boss or client (and yourself) and ask some direct questions about what the heck is going on—before you start a new project.

For each of these questions, don’t shy away from being direct. Often, it’s the questions we’re most reluctant to ask that give us the answers we need. Direct questions will ensure you understand and set expectations about how your team will work and how you will work with others.

I call these questions “career-saving” because getting the answers can make or break the success of not only a new project you’re about to start but your entire career. You will be a better leader, a better employee, a better team member when you ask the right questions.

How you use the answers, of course, is up to you. But having that information on your side is an incredible advantage you won’t get any other way.

Questions to Ask Before You Start a New Project

So, here are seven questions to help you get your project started on the right foot.

1.What is the goal of the project? This question will keep you focused on a single goal and devise the tactics to ensure you meet it.

Read more about tactics over strategy in this post.

2. What is the deadline? Every project has a deadline. Create a plan that is based on the urgency of a final date and keep that insight.

3. What are the metrics that will prove the project successful? Understanding how your boss will determine what project success looks like

4. Who owns the project? Every project has an owner. You need to know who’s going to give final approval and who’s signing cheques. Make sure that the owner of the project is looped in and well informed.

5. What might prevent the project from being successful? Your job is to predict project risks and make contingency plans.

6. What are the points in the process that needs explaining? Does your boss understand your work, plan, and processes? Respectfully explaining things will build trusting relationships.

Find out more about partnering with your boss here.

7. What is the preferred mode of communication of your team and bosses? Ask what works for them and adapt your style accordingly.

So, before you start a project, not during, and not after, I want you to ask these seven questions. Use these questions (or more importantly, their answers) as a guide to help get the information that you need to succeed.

What results do you want?

Remember, the way you use the answers to these questions is up to you. Some of these questions are for your team members, some are for your boss, and some are for yourself. But what they all have in common is how important it is to ask them in the first place.

Whether it’s starting a new project off on the right foot, being a better leader, learning to delegate, or any other critical tasks leaders are faced with, I can help. Individual coaching is for new or uncertain leaders who need help finding their way forward. Find out more about what my one-on-one coaching program includes here.

Looking for more ways to start a new project on the right foot?

Then try one of these posts next:

This article was first published in 2017 but it was updated just for you in 2021.


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