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Lack of Clarity Wreaks Havoc

By Joey Havens

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This blog is the third in the series, My Top 10 Blunders and How You Can Avoid Them

For a long time, I had a terrible habit of communicating my expectations with very little clarity. 

For example, let’s take a look at this totally made up scenario:I asked a team member if they could provide an analysis of a client’s information for consideration of an offer to sell their business. “I need it next week, can you have this ready for me?” “Sure,” they responded.

But, on Tuesday morning of the next week, I called to check on the analysis because I’m meeting with the client Wednesday morning and find out the team member is on vacation. “Wait, WHAT?!” (Insert angry face.) This is a disaster. “Why are my team members so incompetent?” I thought. “Did they not realize the importance of exceeding client expectations?”

It turns out, the team member was due to return from vacation on Wednesday and had that day blocked off to work on this project, with the intention of providing me with the full analysis on Thursday morning. But that won’t do any good now. This is certainly not any fault of mine, right?

I noticed that this type of situation happened a little more frequently than I was comfortable with, and unfortunately, I noticed that I was having similar problems with my family members around family functions and activities. 

Luckily, someone noticed my frustrations and suggested that I might benefit from a coach.  Wow, were they ever right.  As my coach pointed out early on, I had a terrible habit of making and accepting fuzzy agreements, where timelines and expectations did not have clarity for either party.  This always led to disaster and disappointment for everyone involved.

Once I learned what a fuzzy agreement was, I was able to improve my communications which led to fewer and fewer fuzzy agreements.   

My advice: When delegating, be sure to clarify all of the expectations and timelines before leaving.  I also learned to do a listening check by having both of us repeat back what we have agreed to. A little extra time in the huddle typically produces better play on the field.