We would usually only ask if a lady were expecting if she happened to be a close relative, a close friend or perhaps a workplace colleague. Of course, all of us would be expecting a bundle of joy to be delivered and inquire as to the date and probably give lots of advice as to what to eat, what to drink, how to rest, and how much to exercise. We do all that because in the natural scheme of things, a baby will be delivered at the appropriate time.
Most of us would be familiar with the phrase “You don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect”. In most cases, we know that this is true. Unfortunately, although we ought to be able to expect a decent amount of productive work from all our employees, we do know this is usually not the case. The fact is that unless we inspect, we will not get what we expect. Of course, we need to ask the “who, what, where, when and why” questions as well. Many leaders would have a tendency to micromanage when they become conscious of the fact that they will get results only when they inspect. They also know that, as leaders, they should not be micromanaging their staff. This presents what appears to be a dilemma. However, this is an example of a false dilemma.
You know the reason why, of course. Certain categories of staff and/ or processes would require more inspecting than others. When staff and processes have matured sufficiently, the degree and frequency of inspecting is correspondingly reduced. Leaders ought to then let their staff know exactly what is expected of them and get out of the way. You would still need to conduct both scheduled and unscheduled inspections but you would probably not need to conduct them as often as before. You might also require your staff to provide you with both scheduled and unscheduled status reports. As a leader, you would also need to develop the skills of deep listening and cross-examination. This is essential if you wish to be able to ascertain the veracity of the reports that you receive.
So, put in the effort to inspect more regularly when it is appropriate, and also conduct your inspections in a manner that your staff will welcome rather than dread. If you’ve done all that, then you can expect to be expecting more often than before.