Never Assume, Always Clarify by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
Life and work are busy. When we’ve a long list of things to do, it is easy to make assumptions about how duties will be handled, who will handle tasks and other little details. However, when you make a lot of assumptions, you can also create a lot of mistakes. Here are three reasons why it’s always better to take the time to clarify.
1. Everyone’s perception is different. Many words leave room for interpretation. For example, your definition of “clean” or “busy” might be very different from mine. When you don’t spell out what you mean in detail, you leave lots of opportunity for someone to truly believe they did what you asked, but have fallen completely short of your expectation.
2. You create extra work. When something must be done over again because the task wasn’t clarified properly in the first place, productivity is lost. Avoid tasks having to be performed twice by ensuring that everyone understands the expectation from the beginning.
3. Work goes undone. One of the biggest assumptions made is that “someone” is going to handle something, without clarifying who that someone is. Making sure everyone understands their responsibilities is key to ensuring nothing is missed.
4. You foster ill will. When employees feel as though they completed a task, only to find out that they fell short of expectation, they feel frustrated. Most people are more than happy to do a job well the first time, as long as they understand the requirements. Over time, when people are told over and over that expectations weren’t met, they will become disgruntled. Before you get upset with someone for not performing to your standards, ask yourself if you made your standards clear.
When you learn to clarify projects, expectations and tasks you will find that there are many positive results. Relationships with employees and customers will improve. Your workplace will become more productive because there will be a reduction in work that has to be repeated. In addition, you’ll find that people have greater satisfaction in the work they complete.
It can be very easy to assume that everyone understands requirements the same way. But, when you learn to clarify every time, you’ll find that getting work done right the first time gets much easier.