Work can be overwhelming at times. The sheer volume of things that need to be done in a thriving business can be quite intimidating at times. I used to think as I was at my limit, and I was for that time. Fortunately or unfortunately, my limit has increased over the years, and my responsibilities have changed as well. I’ve learned that in addition to managing my own limitations, I also have to manage the limitations of my team. What a challenge it is. One of the limiting factors of management is handing off tasks and projects. It can be a delight or an abysmal challenge.
Today, as I sat with one of the guys on my team going over a project, we took a moment to engage in some interesting conversation about handing off tasks, and communication about projects. When handing off a task, my goal is to make sure I’ve done my best to communicate what’s expected. I’m not always successful, but like I said, its a goal. He made an interesting comment about my style of handing off projects by making a list and then asking him to clarify his understanding of what I had asked him to do.
I’ve seen a lot of bad communication even on the executive level…the guys/gals that are supposed to get it right quite frequently get it wrong. Quick fast communications in the hallway, blowing through points in fast paced meetings, phone calls that take place in the blink of an eye, emails that are only partially thought through, and the list keeps going. Then we wonder why somebody doesn’t deliver. In the words of Charlton Heston, “It’s a madhouse!”
As our conversation continued, I asked him if he had read The One Minute Manager to which his reply was “No”. I quickly covered the basics.
1) Clearly communicate what is expected to the person you are asking to do the work.
2) Don’t assume they got it all, ask them to repeat it back to you.
3) Once the task is complete, do a review. How did it turn out? Commend them and make suggestions on possible ways to improve.
My boss, Dave Ramsey, listed this as required reading for us back in 2001. It has been a valuable tool since that time.