I was watching my son’s spring basketball practice the other evening and despite a lot of talented boys on the court, a lot of balls were being dropped. I started watching more closely. There were a lot of balls flying through the air and it felt oddly familiar. In the business world balls are always being tossed from one player to the next. Why are they dropped sometimes and not others? Watching these boys, I noticed the dropped passes were the ones where the receiver was not ready.
I frequently use simple games as part of a creative problem solving process and one of my favorites is the Clap Game. In this simple game, you make eye contact and clap in the direction of someone else in a circle of colleagues. The receiver then makes eye contact and the clap is sent to someone else. For teams that are in synch, the game sounds like a staccato allegro rhythm. Teams that are not create an awkward plodding rhythm. At this point I let them in on the secret; a missed clap is not the receiver’s fault. It is the senders. You need to establish eye contact and ensure they are ready to receive.
How often do we do this in the workplace: send before the receiver is set?
Next time you need to pass the ball to someone else in the organization, make eye contact (real or virtual) and ensure they are ready to receive.