Jeremy worked long into the evening. Headed home at midnight, he felt confident that his supervisor would be pleased with his project results. But in the morning, reality dealt him a crushing blow. His boss glanced quickly through the report, then tossed it on the table and said, “This isn’t what I wanted you to do! You’ll have to start over.”
The subsequent autopsy on his efforts showed Jeremy what he had missed: finding out not just what his supervisor wanted but also exactly how the work should be performed and presented.
Rework is inefficient. Repairing trust with disappointed supervisors drains our limited time and energy. And often, it’s all so easy to avoid through a three-letter word: “How?” For example:
• When given a new assignment in your work, certainly seek to understand what the end product of your efforts should be. But always ask the extra question, “How would you like this work to be performed and presented?”
• When reviewing the positive results of successful people we admire, seek to find out exactly ‘how’ they got those results. What specific steps did they use? What sources of information did they use? What actions did they take at decision moments? What were they careful to avoid?
• Likewise, when giving assignments to students, subordinates, or anyone else, endeavor to be absolutely clear about not only what you need, but how you would like the assignment to be tackled and completed.
As they say, “The devil is often in the details”. And making assumptions on details creates the unnecessary risk of flawed results.
Improve your results. Avoid needless mistakes. Remove ambiguity and doubt.
When assigned or assigning new projects or tasks – at work, home, school or anywhere else – clarity is king. Ask or explain “How!”
John J. Hall, CPA
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”