You want me to do What ?

What by zirconicussoWhat are you doing? What are you asking me to do? What exactly has to happen? Here we have another powerful word with what. As so often is the case, the more you specify, the better.

Clarifying expectations and requirements goes a long way to building a happy result. I’ll illustrate with a simple situation. Let’s say that Joanne agrees to arrange for lunch for a meeting with an important client. She is thinking she wants to impress them and so arranges for a fancy spread. Turns out that her boss was planning a working lunch, and they needed quick and easy (though tasty) compact boxed lunches. Oops. The two didn’t clarify specifically enough what they needed.

Some people or situations require greater clarity than others. We love it when someone through intuition or experience can fill in the gaps. In Joanne’s story, it sounds like she hadn’t worked much with her boss yet. She should have asked more questions, and her boss should have given her more detailed directions. Knowing Joanne is new, the boss should say, “This is a working lunch, so I’m thinking boxed lunches. Ask George what he did last month for our last client meeting. He has good tips.”

Strong leaders will specify requirements and feel out if their people need more detailed directions. Unless it’s really obvious, great team members will rephrase what they need to do to ensure clear understanding. A leader should know to coach people along until they are working symbiotically.

Lunch is a small annoyance if it isn’t right. Imagine the problems when people make faulty assumptions on significant projects. The bigger the implications, the more important it is to confirm you and your team know what needs to happen.

So, if you’re the boss, make sure you’re giving clear directions on what you expect. If you’re the Joanne, ask!

credit: Image courtesy of zirconicusso /

Pamela approaches marketing with particular focus on strategy, innovation and new item introduction. She has Fortune 500 brand and agency experience across both consumer products and services industries. Respected as a collaborative problem solver, Pamela has a knack for improving process as she navigates the ups and downs of seeing strategy and projects bear fruit. Pamela hails from Asheville, NC and is a graduate of Williams College and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina.

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