Not every request we make is fulfilled. Not every assignment is accomplished. Not every task we assign is completed.
Why is that? Possibly, the lack of a complete request.
It may be the person we made the request to was incapable or decided to ignore us. Or, more likely, it may be our request was not clear.
An unclear request increases the chance the desired outcome will not occur. An unclear request permits misunderstanding and confusion to guide the path toward an unsatisfactory result.
Understanding the essential elements of making a complete request improves the chance the desired outcome will occur.
Let’s examine the 7 elements one at a time.
1. A Requestor
Someone is making the request. If it’s you, say so. If someone else, name them. Be clear about who is making the request.
2. A Receiver (requestee)
Someone is the recipient of the request. If there is more than one person in the conversation, be clear who is the the one, or specific members of a group, that are to receive the request.
3. The Action
What is it the requestor is asking the recipient to do. This is the request. It maybe simple, “please turn on the overhead lights.” Or, it maybe complete, such as “conduct field data analysis on product line Tulip.”
4. The Conditions or Criteria
The boundaries that define what is an acceptable accomplishment of the request. If the overhead lights have a dimmer – you may need to define how bright to set the lighting. If the field data analysis is to include each model within the Tulip product line, say so. Likewise, if the analysis is to focus only not the last two years of data, say so.
The conditions may include for format for the delivery of the results. For example, the analysis may require a report, a technical paper, or a presentation. Be clear concerning the scope, criteria, and expectations that make up the satisfactory accomplishment of the requested action.
5. The Deadline
When should the person receiving the requested action accomplish the request. Set a specific time. Noon on Friday. Friday before the close of business. This may include updates or milestone dates as well.
6. Common Understanding
If both the requestor and request receiver know the close of business on Friday is 5pm US Central time, then the completes the detail of what could be a vague deadline.
For teams that work together the time and date of the next staff meeting is obvious and known. If in doubt, be specific, or check the common knowledge.
Is the person receiving the request capable to accomplish the task? Do they have the necessary skill, talent, background, education, etc? For the field data analysis does the person have access to the data, the appropriate data analysis software, and the ability to effectively accomplish the analysis?
The Perils of Skipping an Element
Review each element and consider what the omission of that element could cause to the eventual outcome.
Not every request we make is fulfilled. Not every assignment is accomplished. Not very task we assign if completed.
By omitting an element we leave to chance the person receiving the request will understand and accomplish the task.
Keep in mind that making a complete request enables the person receiving the request to ask questions, confirm or challenge assumptions, and otherwise form a complete opinion before accepting the request. We are making a request. We are asking someone to do something. They have the right to fully understand that request before accepting the request.
Review Your Requests and Improve
Consider the requests, large and small one, that you have made today. Were all the elements included, assumed, understood, confused? How was the outcome? On time, complete, and meeting all the conditions?
For each request that went well, what about it helped all concerned to accomplish the requested action?
For each request that did not go well, what element(s) was missing?
Learn from what worked as well as from what did not. Continue to examine and improve your ability to form and make complete requests.
It takes deliberate practice. Informed feedback. Patience. Persistence.
How well are you doing making requests? What elements do you need to conscientiously focus on to include or improve? What areas seem to cause you the most problems? Comment below and let’s talk about ways to improve together.