Have you ever had the experience when you ask someone to do something they say yes, but it doesn’t get done? Maybe you asked someone to do a report or perhaps you’ve asked someone to hang out the washing. But despite on the surface, they say, yes, it doesn’t happen. Why is that? Today, we’re going to talk about one magic word that can make a difference to how you phrase this question to get more action. It is something you can apply today that can make a small difference in your everyday. So, what is this magic word? Well, this actually fits into the steps of delegation…
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Have you ever had the experience when you ask someone to do something they say yes, but it doesn’t get done. Maybe you asked someone to do a report or perhaps you’ve asked someone to hang out the washing. But despite on the surface, they say, yes, it doesn’t happen. Why is that? Today, we’re going to talk about one magic word that can make a difference to how you phrase this question to get more action. No, the magic word is not please, and I’m not saying this is going to solve all the world’s problems. But it is something you can apply today that can make a small difference in your everyday life. So, what is this magic word? Well, this actually fits into the steps of delegation.
When we’re delegating, there’s a few parts to it. We’re talking about the first and second step here. So just to give an overview of delegation when you are delegating a task, it’s important first to explain what you are wanting done. The second is to get buy-in from the other person, because without that buy-in or agreement or commitment, there is no action. The third is getting that person to then come up with a plan on how they will deliver it. It’s a lot more powerful if the other person comes up with the delivery plan. The fourth is deciding when you will check in along the way to make sure this is going on a target. And the final one is the closeout of the project.
Make sure you do follow each of these steps because issues with delegation often show their head at the end, but they’re caused by something that’s happened at the beginning, which is the topic of today’s podcast. If you recall, the first two steps were about explaining what the task is you’re wanting done and the second is getting buy-in from the person.
This magic phrase that you can change has to do with getting buy-in from the person. And it’s a difference between the word ‘can’ and the word ‘will’.
Let me give you a couple of examples. “Can you get the report done by Friday?” versus “Will you get that report done by Friday?” Or “Can you hang up the washing?” versus “Will you hang up the washing?” This third example is normally the one where people go, ah, Okay. I get it. The third example is, “Can you marry me?” versus “Will you marry me?”
Let’s get a little bit technical about the differences between the words will and can. Will is primarily used about a future tense. On the other hand, the verb can, is used in the sense of ability. So when you’re asking somebody a question by saying, can you do this? You’re asking, do you have the ability to do this? Get clear on if you’re asking if someone has the ability to do it , or whether they intend to take action on it
So, can you do this report by Friday? Do you have the ability to do this report by Friday? It is very different to “Will you do this report by Friday?” Because that is about a future tense of action. So, how do you apply this in a work or personal situation?
When you’re delegating that first step of explaining what the task is, the second is about commitment. So when you’re asking the question, can you do this? Asking “will you” is a much better option. So for example, “Can you help me?” Try changing to, “will you help me?” “Can you get this report done by Friday?” “Will you get this report done by Friday?” “Can you hang up the washing?” Yeah, who am I kidding? That one probably doesn’t work anyway.
This is a small change, but it actually makes a huge difference. Sometimes I’ll be talking to clients about their strategies or their action plans that we’ve devised together. And we noticed that the word can slip in versus will. And it’s a great point to be able to question. Because I know they have the ability to do it. The question is, will they do it? Is it still important? Is it a way that they can wiggle out of a commitment they’ve made to themselves of something that is important, but perhaps avoiding the discomfort. So my role as a coach is to be able to help notice that and have a conversation about it versus getting in trouble.
Notice in your own language when can and will pops up and also in your conversations with other people. It is a small word change, but it’s something that you can try out today. I’d love to know what impacts that has for you. Well, let me rephrase that. Will you let me know how this goes for you?
See the difference?
If you enjoyed today’s episode about delegation, you might be interested in my upcoming program, Solo to CEO, which is for small to medium business owners. There are six modules about how to level up to CEO. One of the modules is all about delegation, working smarter, not longer by setting clear expectations with team members. You get a system that gives you comfort that nothing’s missed, learn the “delegation matrix”, what to delegate when and the “delegation framework”, which is for anyone who says “it’s faster if I just do it myself”.
You can feel in control while they tick things off your list. And most importantly, avoid the dark zone of micromanagement. Jump into the show notes to follow the link and find out a little bit more about the program Solo to CEO and jump on the waitlist. It’ll be opening for applications at the end of July for programs starting in August.
Thanks for listening.
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