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Three Reasons People Don’t Do What You Want

·2 mins

There are only three reasons why someone doesn’t do what you want them to do, and it doesn’t matter if that person is your employee, colleague, or a family member. (Before considering those reason, let’s take as givens that the request is sincere and you have the authority to make it.)

  1. They do not know what you expect or did not recognize it as a request.
  2. They know what you expect, but do not know how to do it.
  3. They know what you expect and have the necessary skills, but choose not to.

Leaders often leap to #3 when it is more likely that #1 or #2 are the actual causes of the problem. The next time one of your requests goes unfulfilled, consider the following questions:

  • Did the request include a deadline and clearly stated expectations? (Clear from their perspective, not yours.)
  • Are you sure the person has the skills to fulfill the request to your standards?
  • Did the person truly promise to fulfill your request? Requests made via email require extra care to “close the loop” and ensure that the request was received and a promise made to fulfill it. Unless you have a clear commitment to fulfill the request by the deadline to your standards, you don’t have a promise.

A Thought to Ponder #

Wisdom always understands foolishness, but to foolishness, wisdom is utterly incomprehensible.
—Timothy Keller

Something Delightful #

There is a mythology today that celebrates failure. I get it, yet I think it may be more productive to talk about iterative or incremental improvement as a goal instead.