Do you ever feel like people give you too much credit for knowing things? These are the people who look at you and say, “But YOU should have known that!” Or the ever popular “I should not have to tell you that.” On a good day perhaps you just smile and nod or say, “Sorry.” On other days your response might be a bit stronger, “If I KNEW everything then I would KNOW the winning lottery numbers and I would not be standing here right now.”
Perhaps it really is a compliment. Someone considers you to be knowledgeable. Or they believe that you know them so well that you can and should be able to guess what they are going to say or do. It might be that most of the time you are able to do exactly that.
Subject matter expertise or strong working partnerships do not take the place of good clear communication. It is better to encourage your team members to tell you something you already know than it is for them to assume that you know. Of course that means when they do tell you something you already know you don’t cut them off by saying, “ I KNOW THAT!”
This does not mean that your team members need to tell you everything. You do not need to be bombarded by information about coffee breaks and lunchtime and every detail of the project. What then, is the deciding factor?
If something might change the course of the project that should be shared. If something might upset your customer or sponsor or other stakeholders that is something that should be shared. Whether you SHOULD know it or not. If there is an issue that requires resolution or the resolution to an issue causes risk or will lead to conflict, that should be shared. What exactly does ‘upset’ mean? What does ‘lead to conflict’ mean. This might be different for each of us. We each have a different tolerance level for surprises or for upset stakeholders or conflict.
You do not want to assume that your team members know what they should tell you and they should not assume that you already know something. YOU want to teach them what they should tell you and in turn you want to make sure you do a good job sharing information with them.
Let’s replace the assumption that someone SHOULD know something with the knowledge that they do actually know it.