Have you ever wondered why other drivers are just not as courteous as you (or maybe they are wondering that about you!)? Or, why your coworker doesn’t deliver the report as she is supposed to? Maybe, why your husband can’t seem to understand what you are telling him? For many, the idea, concept, process, whatever it is, is common sense, so we believe that it should be common to those around us. The result, we end up disappointed or frustrated, or even angry.
So why does this happen?
Most of us have heard (and said) that common sense isn’t common. Do you think this is true? My stance is that common sense is common; otherwise, they wouldn’t call it common. However, it is not common to everyone. At least not in the way most of us think. Why? Because we are all different.
I was working with two other coworkers who were fed up with how each other conducted themselves, I will call them Mike and Todd. Mike was the lead and would complain that Todd was not completing his tasks as he should. When asked if Todd was told what to do, Mike would say, “Of course!” The reality is, the message was not delivered in a way that Todd understood.
In this example, Mike would tell Todd to “complete your assignments”. Todd would claim they were done and Mike would claim they were not. The issue? The message was not clear enough. “Complete you assignments” is far different from “Complete your presentation and reports by 10:00 am Friday November 6, 2015 and deliver them to me by email.” The later provides a more thorough suspense and deliver method, which can be easily followed (assuming the task/project instructions were clear as well).
So which method is considered common? Both. How?
Standardize products and service, delivery method, and set clear expectations with your team. Doing so will create a clear standard that can be followed, monitored, and adhered to. If your team is cohesive and has been together long enough, “complete your assignments” will be common for your team.
If your team is still forming, or if you have members who require more in-depth instruction, then provide that for them. There is no harm in providing clear instructions. This will help build your team to become more cohesive, efficient, and effective. Remember, it is not that they lack common sense. Common sense is just different for everyone.
As you work with others – subordinates, peers, your leadership – consider what they determine to be common sense. How does it differ from what you determine to be common? Does this change how you perceive them? How they perceive you? Keep this in mind as you lead your team, take instruction from your supervisor, or changing lanes on the freeway. Because common sense isn’t common, or is it?
Jared W. Snow