I have a friend who is the primary liaison between his organization and the contractors for a new building. It has been fascinating to hear about his triumphs and struggles through this process, including now when they are in the home stretch before opening.

One of his challenges has been to know if or when to address issues that he sees on his walk-throughs. Is that imperfection going to be addressed as part of the finishing process, or is it an oversight that needs to be brought to attention? Does he mention that a component is missing, or trust the process that all will be done according to specifications in the end?

I think managers frequently face the same dilemma when they observe gaps in any project or in an employee’s performance. Will they get to X or do I need to remind them? Are they aware that there is a problem, or do I need to point it out?

Oftentimes, the best approach is through a question. Asking allows the responsible party to know you noticed but leaves them with the agency to address it on their own. It’s not micromanaging; more like coaching and micro-nudging. You’re not telling them what to do, rather you’re providing input while the work is in process and a gap can be more easily resolved.

If you’re going to speak up about something in the end, it’s usually better to acknowledge it in the beginning or middle rather than let it fester.

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