LinkedIn Conscious Business Week 8: Coordination
From the introduction:
For each week of this course I am going to take my notes on what I learned and turn it into a short blog post. I am hoping this will encourage you to take a look at the course and maybe do it yourself.
This weeks notes on Conscious Business focus on coordination. Specifically this part of the course touches on being effective when making requests, eliciting commitments, apologizing, and making complaints.
Decisions are worthless unless they turn into commitments. Talk is cheap because it’s easy to decide, in comparison to action which is expensive because it requires commitment.
Requests tends to happen in the last phase of collaboration. After communication and successful negotiations have taken place. They can be made informally. Although, especially in the business world, it is more effective to use a specific structure, such as this one:
- Set the context: What’s the point of of the request and the goal? Is it going to be achievable?
- Make the request: Actually ask someone to do something by some time. The action needs to be observable, measurable, and concrete.
- Handshake: This gives the other person a chance to agree or disagree and negotiate an alternative.
The most important thing to remember when making a request is everyone needs to be on the same page. To ensure this is the case, there are only two concrete responses to your request: “Yes” and “No”.
Often, people will mix these two in order to hedge their bets, such as “Yes, I’ll try.” However, this creates a lot of confusion if not clarified.
Other, intermediary responses that are also acceptable are: “I need clarification”, “I will respond by this time”, and a providing a counter offer. This responses are clear, as they keep the conversation on track, but they are not definitive.
On the other side, if something is being requested of you it is important if you are going to accept a request that you commit with integrity. To do this, you must intend to keep your promises which implies a belief in the following:
- You understand the request.
- You have a robust plan.
- You have the necessary skills and resources.
- You have a way to track progress and adjust the plan if necessary.
- You have a way to contact your creditor if you need to revise the commitment.
If you don’t believe all of these requirements, then you cannot make a promise with integrity. Of course there are honest mistakes, but there are never honest lies.
When you make a promise, you are really making two commitments. The first is to perform, this is rooted in the task. The second is to maintain trust and the relationship which relies on integrity, based in the self. We explored these ideas deeper back in Concscious Business Introduction.
So when you make a promise you are really agreeing not to let down the person you made the promise to. Obviously though, unexpected things can happen and the assumptions you had when you made the promise can change. If they do and you believe you can no longer fulfill the request and deliver on your promise then you need to let the creditor know as soon as your belief changes, to give them enough of an advanced warning.
This advanced warning has to come with an acknowledgement of your promise and that by not delivering you are creating a breakdown for the other person. You should also provide a reason, not an excuse. The robustness of the plan should’ve ensured that no trivial issue would render you unable to fulfil your promise. So if something goes wrong, then it should be significant.
The next step is to ask them what the consequences are for this breakdown. The reason for this is you then need to take responsibility for minimizing them. Then you can negotiate how best to do this.
Finally you need to make a new commitment to whatever you can do to solve the problem.
Let’s say someone has made a promise to deliver something by a due date. Then the due date arrives but there is no delivery of what was promised.
Well, the first step is to call and ask if they remember that they have made a commitment to you. Sometime it is possible that they have forgotten, or that there was some confusion.
However, if they do remember, then the next step is to check if they realise they haven’t fulfilled their promise. Sometimes they have and something has gone wrong out of their control, such as a cheque being lost in the mail.
If they agree that they haven’t performed, then the obvious question is “what happened?” Challenging this story isn’t the best way to proceed. It’s not just a breakdown in performance. The real breakdown is the breakdown of trust and integrity.
Instead of focusing on the story about the lack of performance, change the question to ask “Why you didn’t call me as soon as you realised you weren’t able to perform?” This is a question about what happened that you broke your own word. Because something happened, you didn’t let me know, and you didn’t work with me to minimize the damage. Even worse, what is happening now that you are still not apologizing and working with me to minimize the problem.
Following these notes should ensure, or at least help with making decisions and acting with integrity. From a stable base of self, relationships and accomplishments can be built on top to create effective collaboration.