When I give my OFS team instructions on Basecamp or send them video instructions, I don’t ask them whether they understood it. Instead, I ask them what they think about what I sent them.
Often I ask them how we can improve the process.
I ask them these questions because I don’t just want to make sure they understand the instructions, I want to know if we understand the same thing.
I want to know if they understand enough to do the job correctly.
Sure, I could just give them instructions, assume they understood, and wait for the results. But I know if they don’t understand, they’ll abandon the task because they don’t know what to do.
Worst case scenario, they’ll disappear.
Asking about their thoughts about the instructions often means things won’t get done immediately. I’ll have to return to that email thread or Basecamp task to answer questions or look at their ideas.
If the task is really complicated, it could take days or even weeks before they start working.
But with this process, I know they will get the job done because they understood my instructions and know exactly what to do.
When they ask me questions, I see better results.
Because I ask them to think about my instructions, sometimes they recommend things. They’ll tell me ways that can make the task more efficient, make it easier, or get done faster. These are things I wouldn’t have thought of on my own if I just expected them to do what they’re told.
Encouraging them to think through also helps them anticipate problems we could encounter, like do we need to buy software for this, more people, etc.
Try it! Next time you give your OFS instructions, ask them what they think about it instead of asking whether they understood. How did they react? Reply to this newsletter and let me know!
PS. Another way I’ve seen this done (and done it myself) is to ask them to summarize the instructions just to make sure we’re on the same page. Also very effective.