Turbo Leadership Systems

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Issue 36 To our clients and friends April 21, 2005
Make the Picture Clean Explain the Context of Delegated Assignment
Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership

Thorough explanations / instructions are vital

Andrew, engineer for an Oregon city general contractor, told Session 9 of the Leadership Development Lab:

“Earlier this year, a summer intern and I were working together in the office. I asked the intern to help me with a material take-off of pea gravel for bedding under a pipeline.

I showed him the parts of the plans and specifications that showed the pea gravel material. I explained the background of the project and the importance of the pea gravel. Finally I asked if he had any questions. He said no. I thought I had done a pretty good job of delegating the assignment.

Several hours later, the intern showed me his take-off. I saw the circled number at the bottom of the sheet but I did not understand the logic of how he arrived at the number. I knew if I did not understand the method he used to arrive at the quantity required, then others who are not as familiar with the project wouldn’t get it either. I explained to the intern how important it is to use as much paper as might be needed so anyone

looking at his work would understand how he arrived at his numbers and to keep the math, the calculation as simple as possible. That is to say, easy to follow and understand quickly at a glance.

The lesson I learned from this experience is not to assume the person I am giving a task to know what I am using the work for. In other words, I must explain the context of the work. The why behind the whats of the job to be done. I learned the importance of explaining how what they are doing fits into the big picture, how their work can and does impact the over all success of the project and in this case the other people who may be looking at their work.

The action I call you to take is: Explain thoroughly what you want, what the finished product should look like and what the finished product is to be used for.

The benefit you will gain is you won’t have to explain things twice. You will save time and you will help your team member succeed and save face as you build their self esteem.”