He is late, he promised the project would be done in four weeks and it is not done. A friend is getting a room enclosed on the back of her house by a contractor and he promised to get the project done in four weeks and it is not done. A client has a vice president who said he would follow through and get four new clients on board and he has not done anything but email excuses.
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever asked someone to do something for you to find out later they didn’t do it? Or didn’t do it correctly? Have you ever given an employee, team member, vendor or family member what seemed to be a simple task only to have him or her come back to you again in person with questions and excuses for delays? Are you bombarded with emails with problems someone is having following through an assignment? These magic phrasing questions can help you help others follow through on an assignment.
After you've given somebody an assignment or task ask them one or more of these questions. Ideally you would do this face-to-face, but you can see which ones may work via email.
What is the best way of making this happen easily?
What is the best way to make this happen quickly?
What would be the first thing you would need to do to make this happen?
What would be a barrier to making this happen?
What would keep this from being able to happen quickly and easily?
What are your concerns going forward with this?
What are your top three concerns or issues going forward with this?
What are two thoughts you have about this project?
What would make this easy to do?
I don't know if I've said this so it’s clear, so when we finish up can you send me an email clarifying how you are going to complete this task?
Can you shoot me an email with the steps you think it will take to complete this project?
Can you shoot me an email with your projected completion dates on each major step on this project?
If you run into any problems getting this done by _______ what would you do?
What questions do you have about what I expect from you on this?
What would make this easy to do or what would make this easier to do?
What do you think would be the challenges to making this happen?
What would be the first action to make this happen?
What will you need to make this happen when you get back to your desk?
What can I do to make you feel comfortable going forward on this on your own?