Have you ever taken the time to write out a long email in response to a potentially major business opportunity only to realize a week later that it’s still in your Drafts box? No? Just me? Well, one of the most important things that I have learned as a business owner is to “inspect what you expect.” What does this mean? Well, most of us have heard about what happens when we assume. Needless to say, assumptions are not good business policy. If you expect a specific result, it’s imperative that you double-check (inspect) your own work – and others’.
A successful leader inspects what goes on as a part of their risk management plan. The old adage “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” holds true in many aspects of business. When employees understand what is expected from them, and how their roles plays into the overall success of the business, they will take your expectations more seriously.
If you have a team that you work with and ask an employee to make some changes to the copy, it is not enough to assume that it has been changed. If we expect for certain content to go up without its prior mistakes, it’s best to inspect it ourselves first. We don’t just get what we expect – we actually get what we inspect.
Sometimes our assumptions can even be a matter of life and death. For example, when commercial planes carrying passengers are not checked appropriately, it can have catastrophic results. In April 2018, a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight was killed after being struck by debris from a blown engine. A preliminary examination of the engine that blew showed evidence of metal fatigue.
In order to create the results that you expect from your employees, first inspect what it is that they need from you. Then inspect what exactly it is that you both agree upon. It’s best to clearly set expectations. This can be done by figuring out your ultimate goals. You can create realistic expectations by tailoring behaviors to meet these goals. Thoughtful inspections help to establish whether or not expectations are being met, and can also allow for additional support. You don’t know what is needed if you don’t ask.
One of the most valuable traits that a leader can have is the ability to understand the needs and wants of others. The idea of inspecting what you expect can motivate others. Sure you can give orders and tell your people what it is that you want done, but following up remains as – if not more – important. It’s not that you don’t trust them; it’s that their job is so important and worthy that it’s worth your time and energy to check in. That which is important to you is also important to your employees.
Lead by example!
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