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Slow the Pace to Win the Race: 4 Tips For Getting What You Want

Slow the Pace to Win the Race:  4 Tips For Getting What You Want

Are you generally disappointed in people?

Do you get frustrated when you make a specific ask of someone, and then end up with results you didn’t want?

Have you struggled when people ask you to clarify information over and over?

This is one of the top challenges I tackle with clients in executive coaching.  You are busy; you want to make a request and move on quickly to the next topic.  You believe you are communicating clearly to the people on your team or in your home.  You receive some validation that there is understanding and signals that things are getting done.  Then, you find out there is confusion, and someone may ask you to clarify. Later, the results are not what you wanted.

This scenario is all too common and, interestingly, avoidable. In fact, with the right tempo and tactics, you can get what you want the majority of the time.  Here are tips that you should start deploying immediately to see the difference in how your team or family functions.

  1. Stop & Get Crystal Clear Before communicating your expectations to others, take time to reflect on exactly what you want, from whom, and how the outcome needs to be delivered.  If there is a deadline or specific details that are important to you, be sure to clarify it with yourself first.  If you are waffling, hesitant, confused, unsure, or conflicted, you will give that vibe off to your people in words, body language, and tone. By spending time alone first and clarifying exactly what you want down to the detail, you save time later, avoiding extra meetings, back-and-forth emails, and calls.

  2. Own What Is Most Important When expressing your expectations, use "I" statements.  Take ownership of your feelings, what you want and need, and why.  Look people in the eye and tell them what is most important to you.  Many people in your life and work may not understand why something is important to you when, to them, it might be trivial or seemingly “one of the things” on a long list of to-dos.  Example: “I’m excited about this project and look forward to the team’s delivery of the plan.  I expect this to be complete by early Q4, with a timeline, budget, and full analysis of any potential pitfalls or obstacles included.  This would be a failure for me if the plan had inaccurate numbers, unexplained holes in the timeline, or flawed strategies that ended up making us look bad to the executive team. Todd, I trust you as the leader of this team to make it happen.  Can I count on you?  Do you have any hesitance or questions before we move on?”

  3. Be Explicit When communicating your expectations, be as specific and concrete as possible. Avoid vague or ambiguous language that can lead to misunderstandings. Clearly outline what you expect, including what you want to be delivered, what your top 3 wants and top 3 concerns are, and provide an explanation of what you believe are the single points of failure for this project or situation. If you do this without emotion and add data to your specifics, the other party will go beyond a shallow understanding.  It will be helpful if you are transparent with the others that you want there to be little room for confusion or missing information.  If you need to schedule extra time to be thorough, then do that.  Taking time early in the process will save time later. 

  4. Establish Midpoint Check-Ins Don’t underestimate the importance of pre-established check-ins, huddles, and one-on-ones.  In your busy schedule, this may seem burdensome, and you may wish it was unnecessary, but checking in often and early is critical if you want to ensure you get what you want.  When you can establish a pace that includes a variety of short communication touchpoints, creating a cadence of expected confirmations or opportunities to adjust, you and your people will feel more in control of both the process and outcomes.  Clients say, “I don’t have time for more meetings,” and my response is always the same: “You don’t have time for wasted effort, confusion, and all the stress later when this is wrong.  So, slow it down, establish a pace that everyone can keep up with, and you will get what you want." Let’s break this down to what a cadence of touchpoints includes:

  • check-in = a single initiative touch-base designed to discuss progress and confirm actions being taken to remove significant obstacles.

  • huddle = a small team standing meeting (10 to 15 min. max.) to allow anyone on the team to give everyone involved a heads-up on what is working, what is not, and what is coming next. 

  • one-on-one = a meeting between two individuals intended to create a safe environment for private conversations, information sharing, and feedback. Topics usually include items and information that the rest of the group doesn’t need to know or hear at a certain point in time.

The disconnect between your intended communication and the received message can lead to confusion, wasted time, and undesired results, yet this does not have to be your reality. Achieving clarity in your requests and instructions can save time and energy and reduce unnecessary stress. Misunderstanding and failure are preventable, and with the right strategies, you'll see a tangible difference in how your team and family respond and function.

In pursuit of turning these insights into action, I invite you to take the next step. Join us for Deep Work Fast, this Tuesday at 3:00 PM PT, where we'll explore this topic further, or catch up with us on YouTube. These sessions are always 20 minutes or less and tailored to help you excel in all your roles—at home, at work, and beyond.


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