The employee of a client was asked to look into the possibility of a new product idea. Being his diligent, hard-working self, he did a complete analysis and returned several weeks later with recommendations. He expected a pleased boss and was shocked to find his boss had expected a response in a matter of days, not weeks.
I hear of situations like this frequently. And it is sad because it would be so easy to avoid the lost time, delayed outcome, bad feelings, and lost trust in both directions.
Was this employee slow? No.
Is this boss a jerk? No.
But neither had clarity either! And neither realizes how often they lack vital clarity.
“Look into” drives activity and who knows what outcome! The boss’s intent could have been anything from a gut reaction after 10 minutes of reflection to the full-blown analysis and recommendation he got or anything in between.
To create the needed clarity, both parties need to change their behavior. Every request is incomplete and potentially damaging until answers to the following questions are understood by both parties:
- What specific outcome are you expecting?
- How will I know when I am done?
- How much time and money is this request worth?
The hard part is recognizing the missing clarity. Once you do, pausing long enough to ask these questions requires nothing more than confidence. A word of warning though. Once you begin to recognize the lack of clarity, you will see it all around you. You may even send me a note and tell me it is everywhere. And you won’t be the first!