The Cure for a Business Filled with Assumptions

One of the most important concepts I discovered as a business coaching client was just two words long: “Never assume.” What kinds of things did I assume as a business owner?

  • Every stakeholder knows and shares my vision for success.
  • Employees will follow the company’s policies and procedures. (In retrospect, "HAHAHAHAHA!")
  • Staff members will share their discontent with me if it occurs.
  • Employees will share my values.
  • Vendor relationships are adversarial in nature.
 Turns out there's a reason EVERYBODY knows this saying.

Turns out there's a reason EVERYBODY knows this saying.

Were my assumptions wrong? Well, yes and no.
 
Some stakeholders knew my vision for success. Some employees followed company policies and procedures. Some staff shared discontent with me when it occurred. Some shared my values. Some vendors tried to take advantage of the company. The problem was not that my assumptions were all wrong; it was that by assuming, I could never be sure.

Business coaching helped me to understand the dangers of assuming, and then to make changes in my behavior to stop doing it.

BEFORE (Assumptions) AFTER THISTLESEA COACHING
Every stakeholder knows and shares my vision for
success.
I need to know the vision. I need to communicate it often. We
need to discuss it, ask questions about it, and lead people to
share and adopt it.
Employees will follow the company’s policies and
procedures.
"These are our company’s policies and procedures. Here’s
where they’re written down, and these are the people who can answer questions.
You’re expected to understand and follow them. If you choose not to do so, here
are the consequences you can expect."
Staff will share their discontent with me if it
occurs.
"We’ll check in as a group daily and with each other
periodically. Your supervisor will meet with you individually on a regular
schedule, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, speak openly,
receive performance feedback, etc. If you’d like to speak directly or you’re
experiencing a problem that isn’t being resolved, here’s the best way to
schedule time together."
Employees will share my values. "The values that drive our company are _____, ____, and
_____. We honor our values among ourselves, with our customers, vendors and
competitors. On Wednesday, Amanda demonstrated our value of ______ when she
________."
Vendor relationships are
adversarial in nature.
"Here’s what we need and expect now, as outlined in our
written agreement. Let’s schedule a 6-month review so we can correct any
issues, learn about new services, etc. If we have immediate needs, what’s the
best way to get a fast response?"

Assumptions can be hard to identify, particularly if you’re assuming things correctly.
 
Communicating clearly elevates the importance of top performance in your company. It gives all parties the opportunity to decide, “Now that I understand this, am I on board? Or not?” It leaves no room for drama, ambiguity, excuses or blame.
 
The next time you’re surprised at something that happens in your business, ask yourself why. It’s likely that you assumed incorrectly… just like I did. Let us know if we can help. Reviewing your assumptions may be your key to success.