The reasons we need to ask for help occasionally can range anywhere from feeling embarrassed that we don’t understand what we have been asked to do, to being embarrassed that we were not paying attention to the instructions when they were delivered. Whatever the reason may be, not asking for help when you realize you need it rushes into procrastination which turns into embarrassment which results in someone else being inconvenienced or upset about the breakdown in communication and the fact that the intended project is now either delayed or less than planned for.
For the Type-A’s out there who run through walls without reading a map and assume the team is following, not checking in with your team to make sure they are making their part of progress can be deadly. For example – you rely on staff to each contribute human capital to market an event. If you don’t schedule checkpoints with the people on your team individually to see that they are doing what is required to have a successful event, one or two people may do their part, but it is not enough to make it worth everyone’s while and can lead to resentment, excuse-making and finger pointing. The same is true personally. Not checking in with your child on how they are doing in school can end up in a surprisingly not so good report card.
It is important to remember when delegating tasks and responsibility to others, that they may not share your same level of interest, enthusiasm, or commitment to the goal. At the end of the day, we are all human beings with feelings. Oftentimes people crave appreciation, a little attention, and added support. Sometimes there are personal trials or conflicts you have no idea about happening in the lives of those around you. Assuming that people have the resources they need to accomplish what you expect from them without managing the process makes an “Ass out of you and me!” Some people are more dependable than others. When working with groups, it is important to remember that 20% of the people will take initiative while 80% will perform mediocre or not at all.
To avoid uncomfortable situations and unanticipated outcomes, schedule on a calendar check-in points with those you depend on. A check-in can range from a few minutes to an hour depending on what the project or goal is. During these brief checkpoints, you can measure progress and make adjustments to goals and/or feel confident that everyone is on-board with the planned goal. Learning how to pay attention to those you count on or expect something from is a growth moment for your leadership skills. If you have high expectations, chances are most people cannot live up to them – especially if you don’t check in with them. The “paying attention” to others can be as tedious for the leader as it is for those around you to ask for help. If you’re the leader, you alone own the responsibility for the outcome of projects.
Think of recent situations where a project didn’t happen according to plan or a goal was missed. What are some of the things that you could’ve done differently to avoid a disappointing outcome? These are some of life’s quiet lessons learned the hard way. Document obstacles and how you will overcome them next time. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome. Debrief after projects, meetings, and/or presentations. Take time to acknowledge things that went well and identify where there is room for improvement. Be realistic with your expectations of others and take time to schedule checkpoints. These two simple steps will improve your success personally and professionally.