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Attention boss types: your people don’t know what you know

Attention boss types: your people don’t know what you know

When you’re touring the facility, picking up slack, making plans, juggling a thousand different things, and working off the instinct and experience of a lifetime, it can be easy to forget that the people in your team aren’t an extension of your will.

They are newer to the field, and don’t have access to all the conversations, data and internal debate that you do.

Which means… Yeah, you have to stop, every now and then, and explain things to them in greater detail than you might think is necessary. Go over things more than once, and get them to tell you what they think you mean. Do your very best to look at the world from their perspective, absent the big-picture scheming that’s pinned to the corkboard of your brain.

If this seems like a waste of time, I urge you to start using a program like InDesign or Scrivener for the first time without reading any instructions.

Or read through this rulebook then tell me how to play (seriously, tell me. I can’t be bothered reading all that and it looks like a pretty interesting game).

Of course, when I say “you have to”, obviously you don’t. That’s up to you. But be aware that people make decisions and take action based on their reading of any given situation. So the less you tell them about why you – as a team, as an organisation – are undertaking a certain path, the less they’ll be able to apply their problem-solving abilities.

In short, don’t fetishise secrecy.

Too many leaders get in the habit of having one-on-one meetings, operating on a need-to-know basis and generally acting like they’re gliding down the halls of mid-twentieth-century spy agencies with manila folders marked ‘Most Secret’ (before the Americans came and ruined that with their ‘Top Secret’… but I digress).

Spill the beans, bud. Explain a couple of things, and provide an overview of where you’re coming from and where you’re heading to.

When it comes to making decisions, your people still won’t know everything you know, but they’ll be better positioned to enact your will because you’ve explained some of the context, framework and/or strategy behind their tactical movements.

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