Yesterday I was talking to a dear friend who works for corporate America. She was complaining about the fact that people she depended upon in the corporation were letting her down in a variety of ways. Having known her for a long time, I realized that I had heard this before and I figured out what to give you all today. A clue to help you recognize what the process is and not get enraged, discouraged or insulted by it.
Here’s the thing. Whatever you want to do, or have happen, you are going to be dealing with other people. Some of them will be as good as their word, but most of them will not. This is not because they are evil bastards. When they say that they are going to do it, deliver it, etc, they actually mean it. It’s their follow through that needs some work. And no amount of work from you will change them.
You can only change how you respond to them and one of the ways to do that is to do an inventory of what can happen; what usually happens; and, of course, what you want to have happen. Being surprised or enraged when someone does what they always do is just a waste of energy, time and focus. It’s what happens. Factor it into your game plan.
So, let’s do an imaginary inventory. If the people that you must depend on are always late, then factor that in as part of the process. If they are not comprehensive and always make mistakes that you must correct, then that is part of the process. If the club owner that you send your stuff to says he didn’t receive it, that is part of the process.
It’s not something that personally happened to you that slowed you down, it is simply part of the process and you have to recognize that and take it into account when you are attempting to get something done, whatever it is.
These people are not letting you down; making mistakes; not living up to their word as a personal affront to you. This is the way that they do business. And I must admit, I try to weed these folks out of the process if at all possible, but if it is not, then factor it into the process.
If you are sending promotional materials to a club, get the name of someone specific to send it to; get their contact info; and follow up several times. First let them know when and how you sent it and when they can expect it. Then around the time that they should get it, you contact them again to ascertain that they’ve gotten it. Finally you contact them a third time to ask if they’ve had a chance to review it and if there is anything else that you can forward to them to make their job easier.
They will not think that you are a pain in the ass. They will think that you are professional and competent. They are getting lots of stuff in the mail and no one cares as much about your stuff as you do. They understand and appreciate that you are making their job easier.
And if they don’t understand that, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you want to have happen. How do you affect the outcome?
So when you are about to do something, deliver something, try to get something started, booked, created, etc. make an actual inventory of what will probably happen. Accept that that is part of the process, so that you won’t be surprised, enraged and/or insulted when it--the lateness, the mistakes, the lost document, the dog ate my homework,etc-- happens. It’s not personal. It just is.
Recognize what it is that actually happens when you try to do whatever it is you are trying to do and incorporate that into your expectations.
If someone is always late, then see if you can give them a deadline that is actually earlier than the real deadline. See, that allows them to do what they always do, be late, while you still have some wiggle room.
If they make mistakes, accept that you will have to proofread what they have done and make corrections yourself. Do not expect to NOT have to do this. Then when someone actually gets something right, it’s gravy. A wonderful surprise.