Every now and then you learn a management technique that’s so easy and powerful that you can’t believe you didn’t know about it before. I learned one of these tactics recently from an executive coach who helps develop executive teams, and thought it would be worth passing along.
The technique is this: After you meet with one of your direct reports, ask them to send you a confirmation email summarizing what they heard.
As you can see, this is far from rocket science. However, think about what it does:
- Ensures that you and your new business director, or any other direct report for that matter, are on the same page.
- You immediately know if they heard what you said; and, if you implied things but didn’t come right out and say them, did they “read between the lines”?
- You receive a written summary of what will be done, by when.
Making a request like this after routine communication meetings may be overkill. I find that the time to use it is when you’ve just covered a lot of important details, or if there’s a problem that you need to get resolved.
Too often, we assume that what we’ve said was 100% understood. However, the truth is that the percentage may be considerably less. A fellow CEO reported to me that one of his employees repeatedly understood less than 50% of what was communicated during one-on-one meetings. This technique saved that employee’s job, helping him to take better notes and effectively prioritize his work.
So, as you’re working on your ad agency’s new business plan this year, you might try this technique, and then be sure to let me know how it goes.