by Coach Christy Austin
Working with countless teams over the years has shown that assumptions are like a hidden pest. Like termites in the foundation, they erode our business, resulting in lower productivity, dissatisfied customers, and increased employee turnover. An assumption is defined as “an expectation believed to be true, without facts or evidence.” Though most are unaware, we each make hundreds of assumptions every day and don’t even realize it.
We make assumptions.
Our staff make assumptions.
Our customers make assumptions.
Our potential clients make assumptions.
This affects our overall success and often negatively impacts our bottom line!
Our own assumptions are laced through the DNA of our business. We know what we’re thinking, we know the culture we want, we know our values, we know our daily procedures, we know what we expect from employees, and we know how to work hard to make things work. But, does our team, or our customers, know these things? We often assume they do!
- Management can’t be trusted.
- I can’t make any mistakes.
- If someone has an issue, they’ll speak up.
- This is the way it has always been done.
- Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken.
Obviously, most of our assumptions are automatic thoughts that “pop” into our minds. We never question them because we think they’re facts. Why? Because, much like family dysfunction, our assumptions are “normal.” They are familiar to us.
What assumptions did you make when you woke up today?
- I’ll leave at my usual time because there’s never much traffic.
- Our morning meeting will be productive.
- The new hire probably won’t work out again.
- My staff will work hard.
When I walked into my office this morning, I immediately sat in my chair, assuming it would hold me. I flipped a switch, assuming my lights would work. And I began typing away on a keyboard, assuming my computer would precisely function to answer dozens of emails. Interestingly, none of these assumptions are guaranteed and in fact, I’ve had many days these assumptions weren’t true – the chair broke, the lights didn’t turn on, and the computer didn’t send emails. Nonetheless, daily I assume each of these will happen normally without a second thought.
The greatest challenge with assumptions in the workplace is, most often, we can’t identify our own because they’re buried deep in our everyday function and routine. They come from our experiences. We don’t recognize these personal assumptions until they cost us something – time, money, valuable staff members, and other resources. In the end, just like with termites in the foundation, assumptions end up costing business owners much more than they realize!
So, what’s the solution, i.e., Pest Control?
Self-Awareness – Take time to become aware of assumptions, individually and as a team, and then we can begin to assess their validity through evaluation and dialogue.
Communication – Assertive communication is the key to dispel assumptions by ensuring others truly know what we expect, value, and need to maintain the culture and success of our business.
Policies and Procedures – A strong team culture is formed and maintained through simple and consistent procedures and policies, such as continuous improvement programs, which minimizes the pesky assumptions and guides us to achieve our goals and continued business success!
Do you know what assumptions are costing your team and your business?