[August 24, 2018] If you never heard this said by your boss, then you’re new to the workplace. “I want it done yesterday” is a common dictum designed to both task a specific work effort and give emphasis to its importance. It’s bad advice anyway and here is why.
When a leader gives a directive, it needs to be clear, concise, logical, and convincing. Factiousness, sarcasm, joking, subtleties, or in any way could lend itself to the wrong idea is an unforced error on the part of a leader. Simple leadership advice … don’t resort to methods that are easily distorted or misinterpreted.1
Earlier this month I wrote about a line I’d heard in a movie.2 “Take care of it,” was said by Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) in a classic Vietnam War movie, Apocalypse Now (1970). He was trying to tell his men to scare off the Viet Cong enemy so they could quickly get back on their original mission. Things didn’t go well in the movie for Captain Willard and it will not go well for leaders when they give bad advice.
Leaders are often quick to give these directives so it is imperative that if we are on the receiving end, we should ask for additional clarification and specificity. If we have given this advice in the past, don’t repeat it.
Leader guidance is frequently misinterpreted either inadvertently or sometimes purposefully. Don’t take the risk by telling anyone you want something done yesterday.