Like most CEOs, I try to focus my time on high-level decisions in the business. My team is full of capable, knowledgeable people who I trust will be able to make the right decisions in their roles. I’d be happy to review their decisions, but I’d rather not get into the details.
The problem is that people often feel compelled to explain why they made certain decisions or chose their managers. It’s natural, but is it really necessary?
This is a question every CEO should ask himself. Are you more interested in the decision itself, or the reasons behind the decision? More importantly, is your team on the same page?
The most expensive word is “because”.
Now, I can’t say I have any stats to back this up – it’s very different from me – but I bet big money spent on meetings Part of it goes back to “because.”
Just the other day I was in a conference and someone told me why they chose a special blue color for the new web page we were designing shadow.
Now, I’m not a designer or branding expert. Frankly, I don’t really care about the colors on our site (especially since I’m colorblind). However, I do want to know that they’ve made a decision on this and that this new page is (or isn’t) moving forward as expected. I wonder if there is anything holding them back, if they need anything from me, or if there are any high-level issues where I can provide value.
This is what I think is the experience of many CEOs and managers, whether they realize it or not. The problem is that many managers (myself included) instinctively ask their teams why they did something without considering whether it really matters.
Unfortunately, if the “because” doesn’t matter, it wastes everyone’s time in the meeting. And that time can be expensive.
If one person wastes 10 minutes in a six-person meeting, that’s an hour of wasted time. The numbers get even bigger when you consider the average hourly rate of an employee and factor in the fact that this can happen in dozens of meetings a day. much bigger.
But it’s not just about money. Inefficient meetings are one reason many people feel overwhelmed with work. If everyone is in back-to-back meetings, they don’t have time to focus on their work and end up having to work long hours to get everything done. It’s a vicious circle.
What do you really want to hear?
It’s not like I have the word “because” banned in any conference I attend. I realize that in some cases it makes sense for someone to explain their reasoning so that I can weigh whether this is the right move.
This is what I started doing.
firstly, I Remind my team that I trust their judgment. I hire them for a reason, and they usually understand these decisions better than I do. For the most part, I’m just assuming they’re making the right move, and unless it’s a business-changing decision, I probably don’t need to hear the reasons behind it. If they’re fine with it, I’m fine with it — let’s not worry about the details.
Second, I’m trying to limit my use of the word “why”. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. My ADD brain would get bogged down asking why we view unique site views monthly instead of weekly, forcing my team to explain itself. (Sorry for anyone reading this.)
Third, If I do need an explanation, I’ll Ask them to send me details via a Slack message or an Asana task. That way, I can review it at my convenience, and we don’t waste other people’s time in meetings with lengthy explanations that might not be relevant to them.
Now that I’ve told you this, wait a minute – you’ll hear the word “because” all the time. So the next time you have a meeting, record how many times “because” is used, and how many of them are reasonable. Might surprise you.