No one is expected to know everything. Yet I see so many people drive themselves crazy thinking they need to have all the answers. Especially managers.
News Flash: management is not expected to know everything. Sure, they need to know a lot…but not everything. So, managers need to get themselves comfortable with saying, “I don’t know, but let me find out.”
In addition, there are a couple questions you should consider asking:
- When do you need the answer? Yeah, I’ve been guilty of this. When someone asks me for something, I assume they need it right away. And in most cases, they don’t. So I ask when it’s due. That may give me a little time to check resources, confirm facts and figures, and consult with others.
- Can I get back to you? This one is good if the question is complex, controversial, or emotional. If I’m presented with a situation and someone asks, “What do you think?” I might comment that the situation is something I’d like to noodle overnight and ask if I can get back with them the next day. Seldom does someone tell me no.
Here’s a good example: an employee stops you in the hallway and starts talking about their vacation request. You were planning to check on this today but got sidetracked because the regional vice president asked you for a report at the last minute. You don’t know the dates the employee is requesting or how much time the employee has in their vacation bank.
Instead of telling the employee that you’ll approve it later today…why not tell them the truth? “I have your vacation request on my desk. Our regional VP just asked for a last-minute report. Would it be possible to discuss this with you later in the week? That way I can check your vacation bank and see who else is out during that time. I don’t want to give you any wrong information.”
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking our job title dictates how much we should know. Admitting when we don’t know something, asking clarifying questions, doing our due diligence, and properly following-up . . . that’s all we really need to know.0