MYTH : I have completed my work, but my manager is still asking probing questions.
REALTY: The word ‘complete’ means different things to different people.
Statements, such as, ‘I have done my work’ or ‘I have completed the assignment’ are frequently used in the workplace. First time managers might take these statements at face value, and later on find out that something more was required. As, employees gain more experience, they become wiser in determining what the word ‘complete’ or ‘done’ means in terms of work. They can mean different things to different people. Some say ‘complete’ when they have not yet completed their work, but are on their way to doing so; that’s usually because they do not foresee any issue that might hinder the work’s completion. Others say ‘complete’ by narrowing down their work to boundaries defined by themselves; but this may be far below the manager’s expectation. Then there are those who think the work is done when they have finished their part; these people usually do not bother to find out whether their piece fits well with other people’s work so that the bigger picture is completed. Some others validate a few critical work items against the defined expectation, and publish the result by anticipating that other less critical work items will have no problems.
Since every person is different, the manager builds up different perceptions about his teams members based on interactions. He will ask the appropriate probing questions in order to ensure that the work has been completed according to the defined requirements. During the execution phase of a project, team members usually focus on the major items and ensure that they are complete. But, during the process, there may be multiple small items which also need to be completed, and so the probing questions from the-manager help in closing them, too. If proper attention is not paid to them, these small things—not the major ones—it can sometimes jeopardize a project,
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE EMPLOYEE? You should insist to your manager that the goal and the scope of the project ought to be made clear. Periodic update meetings on its status are also a means of identifying any missing piece. if issues are solved at an early stage rather than later, the project expenditure will be less. You should be in sync with your manager throughout the execution process so that there are no surprises.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE MANAGER? You should provide a checklist of the items required and they should be well-documented. The requirement should have two sections: one, an overall goal for the team; and two, an individual’s scope of Work. Identifying upfront the definition of completion is part of goal setting and it requires you and your employee to sign up to the result. This will help your employees to have the right expectation. This document should be
prepared together with the employees and reviewed by them so that they understand all the issues and gain buy-in. It should be made clear that the checklist would be strictly followed and that any exception made to it should be approved by you.