Monday, August 3, 2015
Doing This One Thing Will Make Your Boss Happy
It happened again yesterday, so I guess I need to write about this AGAIN.
I went to a restaurant, and a friendly server named "Matt" came to take our order. He smiled pleasantly as the six people at the table gave their order.
He never once reached for a pen or paper. He just nodded pleasantly as we gave him our orders.
Then, of course, it happened. Two of the orders were wrong. Matt just nodded pleasantly and said "Sorry!" as he hot-footed it back to the kitchen to correct the orders.
I have to admit it's a pet peeve of mine to go to restaurants and the servers refuse to write down the orders, instead relying on their extraterrestrial minds to remember that my friend wants no croutons on her salad and another friend wants no onion or mustard on his burger that is to be served with no bun.
I don't want to trash-talk restaurant servers. They're hard-working people who put up with a lot. But this problem of employees relying on their memory to remember every detail -- instead of writing it down -- is something I hear bosses complain about quite a bit when it comes to their teams.
For example, I once attended a business conference populated by a whole bunch of high-tech brainiacs. It was like being in a roomful of Sheldon Coopers, only without the laugh track. When I asked one manager what it was like trying to direct all that brain power, he commented, "It's like being a second-grade teacher."
He went on to explain that while these people were scary smart, they also lacked some common sense. For example, they never wrote anything down. As a result, he often had to repeat instructions again and again, and it created a huge headache for him. It was not unusual that silly mistakes -- and often some big ones -- were were made by the team because someone forgot a detail that ended up causing problems down the road.
You get where I'm going, right? Whether you're writing code for a living, or delivering burgers and beer in a restaurant, you need to forget your ego and start writing things down when information is critical.
Here are some times you always need to write down information:
1. When issues are time sensitive. If a customer needs a project done by a certain time, write it down.
2. In a meeting. Don't rely on the official note-taker to get everything perfect. This is especially true when the information directly impacts your job or your boss's job.
3. When there's a complaint. This is an important protection for you; write down the complaint and how you handled it. Keep notes of follow-up action. These may come in handy if the boss gets involved and wants to know what happened. You will come off as professional and prepared if you can relate what took place by reviewing your written notes.
4. If you're getting instructions from more than one person. Matt, are you paying attention?
5. When the boss speaks. If you're going to lunch with the boss, are called into the boss's office or he or she stops by your desk, write down the information you are given. This assures the boss that he or she won't be repeating the same information tomorrow.