Banish the fog!

Organizations are funny things. At NAFCU, there are only 70 or so of us. You’d think that communication among such a manageable group of people would be easy.

It never is. There is always some amount of fog.

I use that word after reading this wonderful post from the Wall Street Journal’s “Speakeasy” Blog. The post highlighted five ways to shake things up at work. Number one really caught my eye.

1. Refuse to Accept Fogginess

Lack of clarity about what needs to be done is one of today’s worst ongoing workplace practices. When dealing with this from bosses and peers alike:

Ask: How do you define success? Never leave a meeting or take on an assignment until you have clarity on this. If the company or your boss is constantly fuzzy on this, make a pain in the a** of yourself until you get clarity. (If you don’t, don’t blame anyone else for all the challenges that follow!)

Ask: Can you help me prioritize? Everybody expects everything done right away. Yet that’s impossible! Keep going back to your boss until you get the top three things that have to be done that day or that week.

Ask: What’s the most important takeaway? Everybody is good at communicating everything. Few are good at clarifying the one thing that matters most. Every meeting, every exchange, keep pressing for the most important takeaway until you get it.

Reading that (and perhaps because it’s college football season) reminded me of this Forbes article on Alabama coach Nick Saban. He apparently hates fog.

In other words he micromanages — but with a purpose. He sets expectations so that everyone understands what he wants, and then he can pull back. “When you have a system, you kind of get in a routine of what’s important,” says Saban. “And then you spend a lot more time on thinking of things that would make it better. Like we met on this camp today. The first year I was here we met for eight hours on how we were going to do the camp. Now everybody else in that room knows how I want the camp run, so we don’t need to spend eight hours on it.”

Fog. It is a killer.  

So, here’s today’s assignment. The next task you delegate, no matter how small or large, focus on removing the fog. Clarify expectations. Paint a vivid picture of what success looks like.  

Then unleash the hounds.

Anthony Demangone

Anthony Demangone

Anthony Demangone is executive vice president and chief operating officer at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU). Demangone oversees day-to-day operations and manages the association’s education, membership, ... Web: Details