Project Management Mistakes: Assigning Tasks to Multiple People

If you’re using project management software, there’s a good chance it allows you to assign multiple people to a project or task. You may be tempted to take advantage of this feature, thinking it might increase productivity or ensure the job is completed on time. But this common misconception can trip up even the best team! 

In today’s video, ProcessDriven CEO Layla Pomper discusses why using multiple assignees is a bad idea in most cases. These reasons primarily boil down to two key concepts: accountability and communication.

Multiple Assignees = Miscommunication

Layla uses an example of three people in a meeting who agree to update the following week’s agenda to include a calendar of events (timestamp 00:45). They all agree to the update, but when the next meeting rolls around, the updates haven’t been made.

One person thought the team leader would do it. 

The team leader thought another team member would do it.

The third person thought they’d all make updates together during the next meeting.

This is a classic case of shared accountability leading to miscommunication!

For Successful Project Management, Clarity is Key

If we redo this scenario focusing on clear communication, the outcome will be much different.

Rather than everyone agreeing that the agenda should be updated, we can break this one objective into multiple tasks.

  • Person #1 can review the event calendar to ensure it is accurate and up to date.
  • Person #2, our team leader, ensures the team has access and the necessary editing permissions to make the updates.
  • Person #3 updates the final agenda with the desired information. 

Not only does each person have accountability for their part in the overall project, but we’ve also included some sequential steps that we can use as dependencies. 

Person #3 can’t update the agenda without proper access, nor should they make edits until it’s confirmed that the calendar is accurate. Once the other team members have completed their parts, Person #3 is free and clear to complete the project and close the final task. 

So, to summarize why it’s not typically a great idea to assign multiple people to a single task…

1. Accountability: When multiple people are assigned the same task, responsibility is diluted. Everyone might assume someone else was handling that aspect if something goes wrong. 

2. Communication: The more people involved in a project or task, the more complex communication becomes. Information flows between all parties involved, meaning there’s a higher chance of miscommunication or missed details with a larger group. 

While it might seem like you’re hedging your bets or boosting productivity by assigning tasks to multiple people, it can often lead to inefficiency, miscommunication, and a lack of clear responsibility. A more effective approach is to break down tasks into smaller, individual assignments or subtasks so each person has clear ownership and accountabilities. Remember to set deadlines for each subtask!

Maintaining clear roles and responsibilities will keep your projects running smoothly.

Until next time, enjoy the process!

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ProcessDriven helps small teams turn chaos into process. The ProcessDriven Approach™️ combines software expertise with practical process-first strategies that have helped 1,600+ teams build a scalable foundation of business systems.