Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Well, I Told 'Em To..."

The comment, "Well, I told them to…" never ceases to amaze me.  Usually someone says this, when some problem or issue arises.  

What planet do you live on where just because you told someone to do something it will automatically happen? 

This may work for Napoleon and Alexander the Great, and others in positions of great authority, but in a company, part of letting your words out, is making sure people pick up your words and "run with it".  What are doing to make sure your initiatives and requests are being fulfilled?  A farmer plants a seed and checks on growth...what are you doing to follow up with your own spoken seed-edict?  Telling someone something once and expecting it to happen, without the proper foundation laid, is “high-horse mentality”.    

Part of management is making sure people receive your requests or order, and then not only do they receive it, they acknowledge it, understand it, have some level of agreement on the importance of it and will follow through it with it.

This doesn’t only apply to management; it works in dealing with clients.  If you warned or advised a client not to do “x” and they still did it, was it the client’s fault or your message?  Yes, you may have told them and you may even have email proof to show them that you indeed let them know the situation…but either way, they now have a bad taste in their mouth and thoughts are being entertained if you did all that was necessary to fully inform the situation.

From living in China, I’ve had the full spectrum of learning this skill.  If you approach China life with the attitude of “Well, I told this person to _, so I cannot understand why _ happened”, then you’re in a world of hurt.  I see this when buyers are dealing with factories, I see it in dealing with my own team, when we deal with factories, when I go to the barber, when I go to the bank, it’s never ending.  There's a mountain of motivating and inspiring involved here to get folks on the same page.   

China requires constant teaching, instructing, motivating, following up, double-checking and then reconfirming it was all done. 

It’s not only China, this happens in dealing with overseas customers.  Folks don’t read emails, they have selective retention, and they don’t want to see the plan facts in front of their face, for whatever reason. 

The flip side of leadership is being a servant; having the attitude of a servant.  A good leader lowers him or herself from off their elevated position to come down and show.  A good leader doesn’t get cranky or testy because they had to repeat a few things. 

If someone asks for an explanation, don’t say the same thing again – obviously it didn’t work the first time around, figure out how to say it better and clearer to match the audience.

Also we tend to automatically think someone is “not getting it” because they ask for clarity.  Start a new habit; start assuming your message is off.  Start having a goal that you want to assure people “get it” and by all means you’ll make sure your message is one folks will willingly jump on and help bring to fruition. 

The more you start purposeful instructing and pointed leadership, the likelihood sky rockets upward that folks listen, retain and act upon what you say.  You’ll find your team to start “getting it” before you even finish your sentence. 

But it starts with you and doesn’t happen the first-time around. 

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