Recently a client complained that he was frustrated because things happened so slowly in his organization. As an example, he cited a report from an outside auditor that had been released several days earlier that he hadn’t received yet, even though his staff knew he needed it. Given that this client is the CEO, you would think that he gets what he wants! However, the fact that this scenario is a familiar one for him (hence his complaint) means that there is a dysfunctional pattern that needs to be changed.
The fact is that even when you’re the CEO, getting people to do what you want begins with YOU. Most people are willing to do what the boss wants. However, it’s up to you to enable them to do so. Here are six steps you must take to make it possible for people to give you what you want:
1. Tell them what you want. Though this point seems obvious, the fact is that often we assume that others know what we want, when we want it, and in what form we want it. That’s not always the case. Don’t let faulty assumptions derail your request.
2. Give them enough information about what you want that the “picture” in their minds matches the picture in yours. For example, the CEO should have specified whether he wanted to see the entire report, a written summary of the highlights, a verbal summary, or some other format.
3. Use language that conveys the proper sense of urgency for your request. For example, there’s a huge difference between saying, “I’d prefer to see the report as soon as it’s released” and saying, “I must see the report as soon as it’s released.”
4. Specify a deadline, including the time as well as the day by which you want (or need!) the request met.
5. Provide a specific measure of how you will know when the request has been met. In the above situation, for example, the measure might be that the complete report is delivered to the CEO by his executive assistant within one hour of its release.
6. Provide a reason for making your request. Research by persuasion expert Robert Cialdini demonstrates clearly that when we give a reason for our request, people are nearly three times as likely to do as we ask than if we don’t provide a reason.
The bottom line: if you want people to give you what you ask for, you must give them what THEY need to be able to do so. In other words, help them help you. Whether the request is made in a work environment or a non-work environment, you’ll all be happier as a result.
© 2012 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.