Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you asked a team member of yours to complete a piece of work by a specific deadline only to find that when that deadline arrives? Surprise! The work isn’t done, and to make matters even worse, you don’t get the work, but what you do get is a whole bunch of excuses or fancy reasons as to why the work wasn’t completed in the first place.
Suppose this is something that you’ve suffered from. In that case, I’m sure you find it incredibly frustrating, and what’s worse is that this could lead to a culture of people generally not doing the things they say they are going to do, which is terrible for business. Hence, I wanted to share this tool with you that I think can help you; it’s called the no surprises policy, and it was created by accident in a coaching session with a client.
This client explained to me that a team member didn’t follow through on their commitment, which created a lot of frustration for this person, so we came up with a plan of how we’re going to stop this from happening in the future.
That’s where the no surprises policy was born, and the way that it works is with no surprises, you either follow through on your commitments, you complete the thing that you say you’re going to do or you manage expectations, you communicate well in advance, so no surprises: complete or communicate, get your team together and explain that from now on we are going to have a no surprises policy in our business and what that means is that if you make a commitment which is essentially an agreement to complete something by a specific deadline that you expect them to follow through on their promises.
However, if they are unable to, then what they need to do is communicate well in advance and manage your expectations, and frame up that there’s a risk that they might not be able to do the piece of work that way, you are in a position whereas the line manager or as the leader of the business you can decide as to whether the thing that you’ve asked to be done should be prioritised or if there genuinely should be something else that gets prioritised.
People keeping their commitments, following through on their promises, or taking personal responsibility to manage expectations is one of the key ingredients to having a high-performance team.
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Marco Soares is an award-winning business coach based in Sussex and is available if you’d like help implementing any of the tactics from “Mind Your Own Business”.