Written by David J. Volk, Esq. | April 5, 2017
Studies show (or at least they should) that talking interferes with learning.
This is about managing a task delegation meeting to make sure the person receiving an assignment understands the task being assigned. The delegating person is assuming the recipient understands the task. The task recipient has to make sure she understands what is being asked of her.
Effective communication is critically important to get things done. I was once driving extremely fast in an apparently distressed fashion. My girlfriend finally said, “are we lost?” I said, “yes, but we’re making great time!” That is like the effect of getting an assignment, not really understanding it, and working frantically to complete it.
Want a great way to get on someone’s nerves in a conversation? Continually interrupt while the other person is speaking. When I am the victim of that technique, it tells me you are not listening to me while it is my turn to talk. Instead, you are contemplating what you are going to say when it is your turn to talk. Because what you are thinking is so much more important, you cannot wait for your turn.
If you are delegating an assignment or receiving an assignment, this can have terrible results. The recipient of that task will inevitably not get it right, because they were not listening.
Want to know another way to get on someone’s nerves? Go back to them two weeks later and ask what they wanted you to do on that assignment, because you can’t remember the details.
And still another way to get on someone’s nerves? Just do the assignment contrary to the instructions. For a little icing on the cake, exhibit great pride in your work.
So, we have a problem we have all experienced in one way or another. Are there any strategies to deal with what we will call The Interruptus Majuris or TIM for short? (Apologies to Tims everywhere.)
Sometimes, TIM interrupts when another person is speaking because he thinks he knows what the other person will say before they finish saying it. I have a lot of meetings in my office. The people I work with are smart, care about our clients and the things we are doing on our clients behalf, and are nice people. At times in the past though, I have suffered working with a TIM. When giving instructions on a project, I would get routinely interrupted for the reasons set forth above. If it is a detailed task I was discussing and I got interrupted, I would let TIM finish talking then ask him to tell me the rest of what I am going to say. TIM did not know. TIM would sometimes frown at my insensitivity for not respecting his bad manners.
You should also tell the person you are meeting with to take notes. Our ability to remember something skyrockets when we write it down. Also, if you do not immediately go to work on the project, you will have the notes to refer back to in order to make sure you understand what you were asked to do.
The person getting the assignment should come back to the delegating person as soon as they realize a problem of not exactly understanding the assignment or encountering an obstacle. Time is your enemy in getting things done. The talented individual gets things done on time or earlier than the deadline. If you realized you did not fully understand the assignment, waiting a week will not help you.
If you are the receiving end of the assignment, you should have a protocol of things to fully understand before you leave the meeting. Read it back to the assigning person when done to make sure you understood correctly. The following is an example of how you can approach that. Bring a form like this to each meeting or customize it to suit your purposes. This approach helps you make sure you are awesome.
VLO DELEGATION FORM
Assigned to: ___________________________________________________________________
Today’s Date: _____/_____/_____ Due Date: _____/_____/_____
Priority: A B C
Please: __ run with this task and report back to me upon successful completion
__ check in with me
daily weekly monthly bi-monthly
I prefer to remain informed via verbal update written report e-mail
The purpose of this task is ________________________________________________________
This task affects me the firm our client, as follows:
CONSEQUENCES of failing to handle this request:
Please add this item to your Task List promptly!
Great communication requires effort on both sides. The result is better outcomes for all concerned.
The matters discussed here are general in nature and are not to be relied upon as legal advice. Every specific legal matter requires specific legal attention.
The law is constantly changing and matters discussed today may not be the same tomorrow. Legal matters are also subject to different interpretations by attorneys, judges, jurors and scholars. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created as a result of matters discussed here. You should consult counsel of your choice if you have any dealings in these areas of the law. Volk Law Offices, P.A. and its attorneys make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the matters addressed.