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Friday, October 7, 2011

My advice on making requests

I’m sure it has happened to you. You have a project that you need completed. So you pass it off to a coworker and ask, “Can you take care of this for me?”

And, then they complete it and give it back to you. And it’s wrong. It’s not the way you wanted it. It’s not formatted the way you thought it would be. They went in the complete wrong direction.

So, whose fault is that?

Is it my fault, because I did not give clear expectations? I did not tell the person I delegated it to that I wanted it formatted a certain way. I wanted the font bigger. I needed more information included. No photos or graphs. My deadline was Tuesday at noon, because I needed to send it to a client that afternoon.

Or, was it her fault? She didn’t ask me clarifying questions. She didn’t ask me if I had certain expectations or how I was going to use it. She didn’t ask me for an example of a previous presentation or the format I liked. She did not ask me the purpose.

Well, I would say it was both our faults. Communication should always be two ways.

How often has that happened to you, whether it is in your personal life or at work? Probably more often that you would like. Makes you just want to do everything yourself, because it’s easier that way, and after all, no one can do it just the (perfect) way that you do.

The best way to be efficient and effective in your life is to decide what you are really great at, concentrate on those things, and find someone else to do the rest. Whether it is a coworker, an assistant, a spouse or helper, delegating can really make you more productive.

But, and this is a huge BUT, you have to take the time to give thorough instructions, allow the other person to ask clarifying questions, and test for understanding. Always agree on a deadline (ASAP is not a deadline). A deadline has a day and time attached to it.

Don’t get frustrated with the other person when they ask you questions. And remember, over time, most tasks and projects have some sort of similarity to them, so if you continue to work with the same person on your projects, they will learn your hot buttons, what your expectations are for deadlines, and they will get faster.

And then you can delegate more.

I’m sure you have a big day coming up… So what can you delegate?

Karen

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