Did you ever get angry that somebody never did the work because you never asked?

I got a phone call the other day from my manager, ‘Coby is a mess! He is not pulling his weight! It’s so hard to get him to work! It’s impossible! It’s like pushing a big rock!’
‘What happened this time?’
‘I asked him for a proposal and he still hasn’t sent it to me! It was 24 hours ago!’
‘When did you agree when he will send it?‘
‘I asked him to do it when he’s free. I said it’s no rush.’
‘Oh maybe that’s why! If you say that then he will not prioritise this task.’
‘But he said he was going to do it last night!’
‘Okay let me talk to him to see what he’s up to and why he’s not sending you the work.’
I called Coby, ‘Sal said he’s waiting for a proposal from you?’
‘I asked him when he needed it. He said, “No it’s not urgent! Don’t worry! Do it only when you have finished your other work!”
‘He said you were going to send it to him last night?’
‘I asked him if he wanted it last night and he said no, it’s not urgent.’
I called Sal back immediately, ‘Hey Sal, maybe you can try to be more direct next time about when you want something? If you say “later”, “no rush”, then he will understand “no rush”. He can’t second guess you. If you want it immediately, he wouldn’t mind, he’ll do it, but he has to know that. You can’t blame someone if they didn’t know, can you?’
‘But Vivian sends me work immediately whenever I ask for it.’
This was interesting. It seems like some leaders, like Sal, can feel embarrassed about asking others to do things, so they are not being specific. They think they are being nice by saying, ‘oh don’t worry! It’s not urgent! Do it when you have time!’ Like Sal, they also assume that if Vivian works in the style they prefer, i.e. responds immediately, then others would do the same. And when others don’t, they are assumed to be lazy. Instead, these leaders create problems for themselves because things don’t get done.
Do you sometimes send mixed signals and then find your reportees don’t do any work, while thinking that they are lazy? Did you give them specific deadlines and set clear expectations? Did you tell them when?
#RememberTheWhenBesidesTheWhy #HeightenedAwareness #CommunicationCoaching

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