At work, we are all being driven to get results, to achieve, to succeed – and fast. Some of us have personality styles that thrive in this type of environment – even if we haven’t, we learn to operate this and cope with the pressure. It’s the way of the world.
A game of consequences
Of course, there are consequences to fast paced working. One that I have noticed all too often is this: When a piece of information comes along, most managers make a decision and act on it immediately, jumping to conclusions. But what if it is not the full story? What if it is only part of the story? Maybe it is not even fact – it could be assumption, or opinion, or a wrong interpretation. do you jump too soon?
Jumping to conclusions with insufficient data
In my opinion, too many managers and team leaders act on insufficient data. Taking things at face value is quick and easy, but is it the wisest way forward in the long run? Sometimes the issue is trivial, or you just know that the information sounds right. At other times though, balls are dropped, problems suddenly intensify and frustration erupts – just because you didn’t bother to get to the root of the matter. So what is the solution?
Everyone who brings an issue to you has an agenda of some sort. Understanding what is going on inside their head will help you choose how to act – but before that, you’ll need to ask questions to explore their viewpoint. Here’s a handy acronym I sometimes when I’m training, to help delegates learn to weigh up what they have heard from others and analyse it:
- Opinion: Is it just their opinion, or do others agree with them?
- Fact: Is there any real evidence that it is fact?
- Feelings: What part are emotions playing in colouring the situation? Something that seems minor to you might be very important to them.
- Assumption: Are they working on limited information and using their imagination to fill in the gaps?
(Topi is The Other Person Involved)
Make time to get it right
Of course, you may not be able to instantly work all of this out. The secret is not to make an instant response, but to ask for the time you need to come up with a measured, thoughtful response. This may mean checking the facts ,or working out what further questions you need to ask. This can be hard when you are working flat out, but to say “I’ll get back to you in an hour” might save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run!
*Taken from The One to One Toolkit, available here
By Julie Cooper
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace
“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy here