Clarity: Is Your Team Pretending to Understand?
Recently while reading a book of fiction a particular sentence caught my attention: ‘What we could not see clearly, we didn’t have to pretend to understand.’ That really got me thinking.
Ambiguity will always result in guesswork. Guesswork results in lower productivity, errors and frustration. When success is the goal seeking full understanding must be at the foundation of each interaction.
Here are a few suggestions for delivering and gaining clarity.
Managers Set specific expectations and put them in writing. Have the team review them, ask any questions and sign the document acknowledging their understanding. Otherwise you’ll provide loopholes that enable them to make excuses.
Seek evidence that your team is increasing their proficiency in asking well thought out questions. The best way to do this is by encouraging role-playing so they practice internally and not on your clients.
Sellers Be sure to set an ideal and an okay outcome for each client meeting. This will help you focus and better plan the questions you’ll need to ask.
Get clarity and specificity on what the next steps will be. Who? Who else? What? How much? Why that much? When? Why then? What if their deadline can’t be met? What if your solution is the most expensive? Knowledge really is power.
Listen for relative terms and phrases like: asap, good, that’s too expensive, we like their terms better, etc. Dig deeper as to what these really mean. For example, asap might mean by close of business today to them, it may mean tomorrow to you which would be an issue.
Bits and pieces of information cause us to draw our own conclusions and speculate. Scientists refer to these as hypotheses, which they then seek to prove by gathering data through questions, experiments and observations.
In business we need to appreciate what scientists know, clarity and certainty come from having all the necessary information. Otherwise we can’t fully understand we can only pretend.