Did your employees mess up? It’s probably your fault.

Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash

Raise your hand if you ever had a roommate. 

Keep your hand up if you ever tried to pour yourself a glass of milk only to discover there were only 8 drops left. 

So you tell your roommate to please add milk to the shopping list when they finish it, and your roommate answers: “I didn’t finish it, there’s a little bit left”. 

Communication is key

It is the same problem as asking to see the color green

You know what you mean, you are picturing it perfectly in your head. But the people around you aren’t in your head. And if you had 10 people in the room, they heard 10 different things. 

“Low on milk” does not offer a reference point. 

“The color green” refers to a wide selection. 

Every time you tell people to do something, do they know which thing you mean?

Delegate responsibility

Delegation is not about delegating tasks. It is about delegating responsibility. 

And yes: if you are a regular reader of this blog you will have seen that line before. 

When giving instructions, start at the end and picture the ideal outcome before you think about the perfect action.

Draw a picture

It is one thing to expect people to listen and keep up. It is quite another to expect them to read your mind. 

Think about the instructions you give as drawing a picture. When you have finished explaining, how likely is it that everybody in the room is picturing the same thing in their head?

Let people learn

And once you have given the instruction, let people learn. 

If they don’t get it right the first time, add the detail they need so that they are picturing the same thing you are. 

What next

Monitor your communication over the next week. Analyze what you say to your employees and colleagues. Are you asking them to bring you the color green? Or a different color green?