Many of the coaching conversations I’ve had lately have trended to the same theme: work that is almost, but not quite, on the mark. Since this is a keen issue for my clients, perhaps it is for you, too.
In these conversations, I’ve learned that a leader believes she’s been clear about what needs to be done, or a direct report thinks he knows what is being asked of him. But then the deadline comes and goes without delivery. Or the project is presented, but only in the most rudimentary manner.
In reviewing these situations with clients, regardless of whether the client was in the role of leader or direct report, the expected steps emerged: goals were set and deadlines were mentioned—but what didn’t happen also surfaced. Missing in these conversations was the opportunity to review and confirm what was discussed. The leader stated the deadline, but did the other person hear it? Did the leader mention the milestone delivery dates? Did they define the elements of the presentation? Did the direct report know how to deliver on what was expected, who to consult with, and what was not to be done? Did they know what a good job should look like?
To support someone in achieving a goal, it is essential to move from the implied to the specific. Almost everyone has the best of intentions. But to achieve success, people need more than good intentions—they need clarity.
Leaders need to make time in work conversations to add the essential step of reviewing what is expected. For best results, the person who received the assignment should do most of the talking during the review— this will clarify what they see as their responsibilities while illuminating any missing steps or misunderstandings. Remember, the person who does the talking learns the most. Finally, this kind of review will allow the leader to listen and endorse the direct report.
Taking the extra step to review and gain clarity before work starts will position both leader and direct report on the side of success. There is a huge difference between almost complete and complete. Leaders who take the time to review will enjoy the satisfaction of hitting the target every time.
About the Author
Mary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D., is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.