You know what they say about assumptions

Column by JAY PERRY

Believe it or not, there is a solution to frustration you experience as a businessowner. It may be simple, but it’s by no means easy. When you look at any problem the best approach to a solution always involves an evaluation of the background—the origin, if you will—not just the immediacy of the situation.

We all face disappointment in the results turned into us by team members. Of course, it is truly a rare situation that people deliberately turn in a disappointing result. Most team members put in effort that they believe is going to satisfy others. Yet, regardless, there is disappointment that we must handle.

The origin of this problem, in our experience, has proven to be ourselves! What we need to understand is that we set the pace for success when we outline what we want as a result from people. Is the messaging clear? Is the expected outcome you have in your mind painted into a picture that others can easily see?

To ensure that this happens consistently one must do two very important things. First, there are always three components of an expectation of results. Each of these three things must be crystalclear if the expectation is to be met.

You have the ‘what’ of the situation: what action is going to happen; the ‘who’: the actors involved; and the ‘when’: the timeframe within which the action will be completed. Not so hard thus far, right? The second point is where the wheels start to fall off the wagon—in assumption. This is where the disappointment arises. There is an assumption made that those involved understand our vision, what we see as an outcome. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone has their own, slightly different perspective on all things. For example, quality levels. What is deemed ‘good enough’ for one person is not a standard acceptable to another.

People make assumptions that other team members will be executing a certain part of the operation underway. This is often very wrong as the others on the team think in different terms.

Now the timeframe involved. To some there is a need to jump into action while for others there is a need to pause and reflect. Others still have their own priorities and when left with an unclear vision they will interpret what they “believe” to be the expectation of the director.

The best way to eliminate assumption is by recapping or summarizing the what, the who and when of the vision then asking for agreement from all parties involved. In my view, the superior way to do this is to get the other party to share their understanding of what they are agreeing to do.

So, you can see that the responsibility remains with us. We hold the obligation to be able to enunciate the vision in our minds in clear, unambiguous terms and gain verbal commitment to execution. This is how you can stay the one who’s driving.


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