The Mind-Reading Trap

Sometimes we expect people to do things that we haven’t clearly articulated they should be doing. We think they should be able to read our minds. Why do we find it so difficult to spell things out to people? Do we want to avoid confrontation, are we uncomfortable with telling others what to do, or do we think they are more capable than they really are?

In our angst to get things done, we may be under the misguided impression that the individual has what it takes to get the job done. Even more frightening is that we may not have empowered them with clear lines of authority for what we expect them to be able to do. If people have clarity on what you expect from them – perhaps they will rise to the occasion OR not. In either case, it is tough to judge someone on something that they don’t know they have to do or they feel empowered to do. And lest we forget, any job requires basic individual competencies but the real success comes from having the right TEAM that have complementary skills to help that individual get things done. The individual you have tasked for the job may not have the all the right skills AND/OR have the right team in place to succeed.

So what to do? Communicate. Set the right expectations. Check in regularly. Provide the resources and guidance needed. AND hold the individual accountable. In the end, they may not be able to do the job but at least you will have given them a fighting chance.

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