When we are faced with a new situation, we automatically run through a quick inner checklist that has four questions:
Why, who, what and how.
The sequence of the four questions is always the same. We need answers to them in that order. It’s hard for us to totally focus on the next one if we are missing answers to the previous questions.
It's not as if we speak these questions out loud, especially not the first two. We sense them—our radar scans for answers.
The classic beginner’s error managers make is that they jump in and show team members how they want something done, totally skipping the first three questions. Then, they scratch their head in frustration as they realize the job is not getting done the way they hoped. “How many times do I have to tell them this?”
Slightly more experienced managers will skip just the first two questions and go straight to what and then on to how. It's a bit better but not by much.
You see, we all...