I love this time of year. Spring is in the air, more time outdoors and it’s baseball season again. Go Twins!
It’s a time of year when I feel I can be super productive. One of the things that can get in the way though is holding on to the ball too long or not throwing it properly to my teammate. I know some of my most disappointing moments in my career were when I failed to throw the ball properly.
Have you ever said, “It’s just easier to do it myself?” I’ve heard it a few times. Once upon a time, I even said it myself -- that is until you finally realize you can’t do everything. And quite frankly, some people can do some things better than you. So what goes so wrong that it warrants hogging the ball to ourselves and not wanting to play with each other? It’s those disappointing times when we’ve shown the courage to hand the ball off and they drop it. There is a whole skill set in how to toss the ball to someone else.
I am inclined to say many of us need to practice this skill. In fact, I’d venture to say the reason other people don’t get things done is due to one of two reasons:
Perhaps that’s overly simplistic and there are a couple of other things can cause the ball to drop, but I believe if you get these two things right, you are going to play a winning season!
The conversation goes something like this, “I asked you to do this weeks ago. You haven’t even started. Why would you not at least tell me if there was a problem getting this done? Now, I’m caught short and unprepared for what I committed to do.”
I’m frustrated. They feel like a train just ran them over. And right now, there is no time whatsoever to address this properly. I need to get out of victim mode and focus on getting through what has to happen immediately. Only then can I think about this. Perhaps I’ll be able to come at it from another direction. All I know is I never want to find myself in this situation again.
After I plow through the project and a less than elegant delivery, I ponder, “What went wrong? Did they not understand or care? Did they not get how important this is?” It could be a number of reasons.
So, next time I check in a little sooner before we’re in the emergency zone. I ask if what I requested was completed, only to catch the person by surprise. They remember me mentioning it, but did not clearly understand what I was expecting and figured I’d be back in touch with more details if I really wanted anything. After this occurred a number of times, I politely but clearly started to change how I assigned tasks. I know from conversations with some of you, that you are struggling with this too. I want to see if I can help.
You may have different words, but my team knows my magic words are:
Let’s get … that on the calendar
Let’s get … something drafted to review together
Let’s get … an agenda ready for that meeting
Let’s get has become my action phrase. I know, they know I am looking for something to be done.
If I am just bringing something up for discussion, my code words are:
Let’s think … about whether or not that fits with what we are doing
Let’s think … about how we want to include that in our offerings
Let’s think … about a new way to do this task
Let’s think about are my consider and ponder this concept for future discussion.
But not everyone on the team may recognize your code words. Furthermore, there can only be implicit deadlines and assignments if you’ve been explicit at some point in the past. For example, Gail does my scheduling. She knows if we’re in a team meeting and I say, “Let’s get that on the calendar” she has an action item to do. This occurs because she knows her role. She picks up the cues, and I’ve had time to sit down and explain the how and why’s with her previously. Now she is a problem solver. She sometimes sees what needs to happen before I even recognize it. And I love that!
When people understand why you are doing things they can get in the game with you. They won’t feel like they are taking on too much risk to go and do something without checking in or hearing it from you first. This is where some of the very best teams get their synergy. It’s seemingly intuitive, but in reality, it comes from sharing the why, the thought process and the understanding of what they are trying to accomplish. There are times I’ll say, “Let’s get so and so done” and I get the response, “It’s already done.” Wow! We are thinking alike. We are seeing the big picture together. We are anticipating one another’s moves.
So, how can we go from the first scenario to the last, from the ball never handed off to your needs were already anticipated? I think I can provide you with a list of action steps that will make this outcome far more commonplace in your world. Before you decide I’m not speaking to you, but to your boss, consider this. Do you ever need to ask someone to get something done where the outcome directly relates back to you. I think that is probably a yes and spending the next few minutes finishing this may allow you to breathe a sigh of relief. Give it a try and let me know.
As I suggested, we all need to develop the ability to communicate clearly with people and sense that they are committed to any task we may be asking of them from “clean your room” to “have this file ready for me by Friday.” We want a high-level of positive engagement from our team. What you may not realize is this is a plus on both ends of the process. People feel appreciated and empowered when there are clarity and purpose to what they are doing. It makes us feel useful and gives us a sense of accomplishment.
HOW TO MAKE THE TOSS:
1. When you toss the ball, throw it to the right person. Are they trained to know what to do with it? Do they understand the objective of the game?
2. Look them in the eye and let them know it’s coming.
3. Consider how hard you are throwing the ball at them. Don’t smack them in the head with it.
4. Make sure they did, in fact, catch it.
5. Stay in the game. Don’t just toss it and walk off the field. You are still in the game until the project is completed, even if they now have the ball.
6. Be aware of what you need to do next, or if something unexpected happens and you need to redirect the ball.
7. Cheer them on. Let them play their part. Make sure they know if they helped you score!
So, now let’s get out there and play some ball. We’ve got some exceptional talent and incredible teams on the field. I expect this to be a winning season. And Jambalaya Group is here to coach you! Let us help you put your talent on the field, play the game well and enjoy the victory!
We’ve covered a lot of ground in the past and if you did not read “Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Improvement Without Creating Constant Chaos,” you might wish to do so. Number 7 is “clearly assign the tasks that need to be done to implement the plan.” There are only three sentences that follow. That process can mean the difference in getting it done or having it remain just a nice idea. Or worse, creating chaos. If you’d like to review it or read it, click here.
Bernie DeLaRosa, CFP®, ChFC® CRPC®, CLU®, APMA®, CASL®, BFA™
Managing Business Consultant
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