Business Coach’s Reflections

During coaching sessions, managers often admit that they don’t delegate tasks because it takes too much time, and besides, they feel they will have to correct it anyway.

Digging deeper, it turns out that the manager often assumes that the employee understood the message conveyed by them, especially since they took care of it with example questions such as:

  • Did you understand me?
  • What don’t you understand?
  • How many times do I have to explain this to you?
  • Is everything clear?
  • Have you finally understood?
  • You don’t know this, they didn’t teach it in school?

These are just a few formulations that are supposed to convey the message that “we understand each other now, and the task will finally be done correctly.”

However, such constructed questions evoke fear in the employee and difficulty in admitting to ignorance because they shift the responsibility for not understanding to the employee.

A step that helps managers is to reverse the perspective, self-diagnose that often they themselves are responsible for the misunderstanding. Broadening awareness opens them up to learning to change habits and building communication based on accurate, non-judgmental, open, and friendly questions. These questions help verify that what the boss said was well heard and understood by the employee, for example, instead of asking “Did you understand me?” (which often leads to a nod and a cycle of misunderstanding), it is better to ask “Please tell me in your own words how you understood me?” (a moment of verifying what was explained vs what was understood). Intentions are also crucial. I ask to make sure that I explained well, rather than judging that you didn’t understand again. Personal and professional development often begins with a willingness to expand self-awareness and change perspectives.

dr Małgorzata Mitoraj-Jaroszek