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Break the Cycle of Assumptions

Sean Lynch, June 22, 2015

Break the Cycle of Assumptions

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.
– Isaac Asimov

We make assumptions about people all of the time. We do it so fast that we don’t even realize it. More often than not, this leads to problems.

We assume that people know how to do things. We assume people know they should be in the office until 5 p.m. We assume they know lunch break is one hour. We assume they know the weekly staff meeting starts promptly at 9 a.m., or how to complete expense reimbursements, and on, and on. We assume all kinds of things.

When others don’t meet our expectations, we assume something else about them. We assume that they’re lazy; they don’t pay attention to detail; they don’t care; or, they don’t want to be here.

Break the cycle of assumptions! Don’t assume. Communicate expectations and performance standards. Then, follow-up to ensure everyone understands – and hold them accountable to those standards.

Don’t assume that since someone just got out of training, or has worked here for 20 years, or has talked to so-and-so, that they know how to meet expectations.

Maybe, they truly do not know. Maybe, they missed that day in training. Maybe, they were told another way. Maybe, their old boss had them do it her way.

Instead, communicate expectations and standards up front. Give people a high-definition picture of what “right” looks like. Get everyone on the same sheet of music. If you lead a team, that picture of success enables team members to act against your expectations even when you’re not there.

Assumptions lead to frustration. Break the cycle and elevate the performance of your team.

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