Everyone knows you need to be organized. Everyone knows you need to communicate. Yet somehow combining the two can be difficult. Why is that? Efficiency is built on streamlining communication, organization and productivity, but all of those things rely on people who operate based on their environment and how they interact with one another. Ok, so now what? Whether you are a client, a vendor, a planner or a co-worker, it’s important to figure out the best way to talk to someone. The breakdown of success happens when people are not doing their jobs and sometimes they aren’t doing their job because they don’t know they aren’t. So before you just assume someone is stupid or slow or rushing or ineffective and you feel horribly frustrated, think about the way you expressed your need to them and their response. Think about the project at hand, who needs to improve and how you can do it. Here are 5 steps to help you move in the right direction to become more successful at work.
1. How clear were the instructions?
I have learned the hard way that if you do not spell out every detail available to you as accurately as possible – event if you think it’s obvious – someone can interpret it differently. If you’re lucky it’s a situation that can be easily rectified with a simply question like “hey, what did you mean here?” But there’s also the chance that it could be a costly mistake that you and your company are now responsible for.
2. Are the steps you are taking necessary? Are you doing this is the simplest and most effective way possible?
Nothing is worse than doing something repetitively except for multiple people doing the same thing repetitively. How efficient is the way you are approaching the project? Does it take a long time to do? Does it involve multiple people when it could be simplified? Taking the time to figure this out may seem like too much of a chunk out of your day but this is where you prioritize. Maybe you should sit down with your clients, your boss, your co-workers – whoever you need – and discuss how you can make this better. It may take some time to figure out but it will be worth lowering the cost of what it takes to do the job, especially if it is something you do all the time. You never know who might know of a program/software, strategy or tool that can smooth down an excessive task or project.
3. How much time was given to complete the task?
This one goes both ways. People get frustrated when they aren’t given enough time to do something or if it takes too long. You aren’t being an effective manager if you are not pushing your team to move quickly. At the same time, there should be deadlines for everything assigned, even if it is small and easy. If you are giving an assignment of low priority you can give the person a month to do it, even if it takes an hour, but follow up in 2 weeks and make notes to do so — especially in your busy seasons. It is important to understand the skill sets of those you are working with – their strengths and weaknesses – and to be sure you are building up their weaknesses and maximizing their strengths. The essential part here is deadlines. Whether it’s a manager to an employee, company to client or co-workers, knowing how long something takes and how quickly you want it done is essential. This is the hub of where organization and communication meet to create success. You should be organized enough to know what you need from someone, when you will need it and give them sufficient time to do it. Follow up regularly and be sure that everything you asked from them was clear. Emphasize why it is important for you to have it when you need it. For example, when I get menus from clients, I would tell them that I needed time for the kitchen to put in their food orders, schedule their staff and arrange details to ensure that everything was perfect for the client. Bring it back around to show that what you are asking of them is ultimately for them. Most people can understand this and appreciate that you are doing the best you can for their own success.
4. You’re talking too much.
It’s hard for your employees, co-workers, vendors, whoever to get the job done when you’re constantly checking in and seeing how the job is going. And reiterating the details, just to be sure everything was clear and to see if there are any questions… because “If you have any questions I’m here to help. And just wanted to check in, you know, to make sure everything was going ok. How is it going?” Don’t do that. Don’t be that guy or girl. No one likes them.
From a group standpoint this also applies to excessive amounts of meetings. Do you REALLY need to have a sit-down about the same issue again and if so, why? What didn’t happen that you need to discuss how to handle this situation twice? If you are having repetitive meetings about the same issue, make sure it’s part of an evolution of erasing the problem because otherwise you’re not doing anything anyway but talking and then that’s less productive than carrying on as you were because now you’re just in meetings going over the same thing when at least everyone could be working on something else.
5. You’re not talking enough.
While you don’t want to overwhelm people with your availability to help, you also want to be sure that you’re not giving someone vague instructions or details. Say what you need to say and move on but make sure that you’re not assuming that someone is just going to create something magical for you that’s exactly what you want. “Yeah, just do it — make it whatever you want, I don’t care what it is or how you do it just do it.” What? No. Don’t do that unless you really don’t care. Statements like that (which I have heard before) lend themselves to the person asking for the project being disappointed it didn’t happen the way they wanted and the person who did it being frustrated because “you never told me that.“