This week, I finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (because I apparently never watch a TV show, see a movie, or read a book until it has been popular for more than 3 years.) In the book, he talks about plane crashes which have been caused by pilots and co-pilots conveying urgency in a way that the other one misinterprets. While hopefully your miscommunications aren’t causing fiery disasters, it can certainly make working as a team extremely difficult! Check out these three tips to make sure you’re speaking the same time management language.
1. Set a deadline
When you’d like someone to help with something, set a specific deadline. “Can you have this done by some time next week?” is very different from “I really need this by 5:00pm next Wednesday.” When you say “next week” you might mean mid-week, but your delegate might think Friday evening is perfectly acceptable. Setting a specific time ensures you’re both on the same page.
2. Repeat it back
After you’ve both finished the conversation, summarize what you’ve just talked about. “OK fantastic! So you’re going to have that report finished by Wednesday, and then I can take it from there. Thank you so much.” Repeating works for both parties. Your delegate can confirm that he understands exactly what you’d like him to do, and you can confirm when it will be finished.
3. Explain why it’s important.
“Urgent” means different things to different people. Some people don’t view a situation as urgent until their house is burning down and they need someone to call the fire department. Others might assign the same level of urgency to being one egg short for their morning pancake recipe. Instead of describing something as urgent or important, explain why to give it context. “I can’t start on my project due in March until I have that report from you, so I really appreciate your help with this!”
Making sure everyone is speaking the same time management language not only makes delegating easier, but it keeps productivity much more stress-free!
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