What you thought you said vs what they heard


It's happening constantly, written, spoken communications. Emails whizzing around, directives, delegation, reminders. Hey, take care of this for Mrs. Client today, Ok. Remember to clean the staging area later today, Ok. Most of us are trained to execute rapidly to get things moving and make things happen.  

Undocumented Promises. 

Every verbally accepted task is a promise. How do you track all of the little commands, directives, etc? Are they clearly documented, backed up with a note? An acceptance email archived? Chances are that a lot of what is asked of people lives in a few moments when your words leave your mouth and hopefully fall into the ears of your employees...hopefully in the way you want them to. "Is that clear, do you understand what I'm asking?" "I already told you on Monday how to __________!"

But I thought you said...

Guess what, it's completely reasonable for an employee to come back with this remark as long as you allow it to be this way. A client of mine has frequently brought these types of complaints around their people to me, and everytime I reflect that it starts with them to make it different. If you started your business, you probably didn't write everything down so you could remember how to care of follow through. Make sure you're not applying this assumption to your employees, that's a common mistake.

Employees are hungry for some structure, a way to do it every time, a way to follow through. At EMyth we talk about freedom within structure or limits. Like it or not, it's the owner that sets the tone and tolerates the status quo, or confronts and breaks through to find a better way to deliver on promises inside the company.

A Documentary of Delegation

Well this film doesn't exist yet, but the metaphor is what's important. Every day that passes is a chance to collect data, or in other words baseline how delegation takes place today. Take that on first as you consider a few ways to track promises and delegate with commitments, and track the results:

  • If the task doesn't live in a manual or job description, make it more formal by speaking to this fact to the employee, and backing it up with an email or some sort of documented note system. Then assess if it needs to get into the manual.
  • When an employee misses what you thought was a clear directive, look at yourself first and what you could have done better to track the results before you barrage them with frustration or disappointment. This is you, owning your management system in it's current state.
  • Each time you find yourself frustrated by another example or event, capture it in a frustration log to soon prioritize and take action on.