When working in a team, it is critical to understand each person’s strengths, perspectives, and work style. With a deep understanding, you can predict what will happen, what they can or cannot do, and you can plan and prepare in advance.
On the other hand, it is also very important for PMs, team managers, and others who work with many people on their own initiative to make themselves predictable (green parts in the figure below). When you are predictable, you and people around you can reduce unnecessary communication, and you can expect to be in a state like being with perfect chemistry.
So, in this post, I am going to write about the importance of predictability and the consistency required for it from the standpoint of management.
Productivity increases when managers are more predictable
Predictable is exactly what it sounds like: a state in which those around you can predict what you will do, how you will react when something is said, and they can predict your thoughts and actions.
For example, consider a situation where you are in the position of making a decision and reviewing the project plan. When you, the reviewer, ask a question to the reviewee (the person who made the plan) at a meeting, and the question is something that the reviewee did not assume, you are in a state of low predictability from people around you.
Even if your question is a reasonable question, if you ask a question that the reviewee does not assume, he/she will not have prepared a response in advance and will tend to respond on the spot. While this may confirm their ability to improvise on the spot, it may make it difficult to get answers based on deep thinking. And if the discussion is not well argued, it will be discussed again. It is easy to say that the reviewee is unprepared, but as an overall activity, it is clearly inefficient.
On the other hand, if the reviewee can predict the reviewer’s points in advance, then the content can be better prepared. If the points are known and there are no reasonable ideas, they can be consulted and discussed instead of reviewing. And if you can predict well enough, there is often no need to hold a meeting, and it can be done quickly and easily via chat.
Even outside of judgmental situations, predictability can be beneficial. For example, someone with strong followership may be able to help you if you are predictable to those around you in points of weakness or perspectives that you tend to overlook. It seems that people who are good at getting others around them involved often have predictable patterns of thinking and behavior that make it easier for those around them to make actions.
Of course, predictability is not a sufficient condition for getting help from others, but it is a very important necessary condition. Being predictable does not simply mean encouraging to guess someone’s feelings. It can also be the groundwork for complementing your own negative aspects and improving outcomes as a team.
In summary, by ensuring predictability, you can reduce unnecessary communication that depends on one’s ability to read the air, and increase the likelihood of complementing the negative aspects.
Transparency and consistency for predictability
It does not seem that those around them will predict by their own even though managers themselves do nothing. To become predictable, you must first disclose your information to make predictions. Self-disclose information necessary for prediction, such as your thinking patterns, what you are good at and not so good at, how you work, the perspective you look at when making a decision about something, and so on.
In other words, enhance your transparency. The more transparent you are with yourself, the more predictable you become to those around you. Whether people around you actually predict you is up to them, but I think it is very important to be able to create a situation in which those around you can make your prediction model.
Consistency is also necessary for prediction. If the response to any input is random each time, it cannot be predicted. It is often said that it is important to have your own style in management, and I think one reason for having a style is to show this consistency. If you are consistent, your thought patterns can be traced and predicted by those around you.
As you become more transparent and consistent with yourself and more understanding of those around you, you will be able to predict how and to what extent you are predictable to those around you. In this way, you will also be able to detect situations that would be difficult for others to predict about you at the moment.
You may switch your work style abruptly, for example, when responding to an emergency and working in a different style than you normally do. If you can make yourself aware of how difficult it is for others to predict you when you switch styles, you can communicate with them politely. Once you can share that different style, you can expect others to be more predictable the next time you change styles. In other words, you can further reduce inefficient communication by taking the initiative to predict the predictability of the other person to you and maintaining that predictive model.
In summary, I believe that transparency and consistency are important to increase one’s predictability. Furthermore, I think that by proactively maintaining one’s predictability to you, you can reduce unnecessary communication and communicate more smoothly.
At the end
I wrote about predictability in management. Its purpose is to have both the direct value of reducing unnecessary communication as well as the indirect value of reducing the psychological burden of “What is he/she thinking?”
Especially in a team in a dynamic situation, there is not enough time at all to carefully share and discuss each piece of information. If, instead, the situation becomes predictable, it will be easier for each person to make decisions on his or her own and to make actions while balancing speed and shared will in the midst of many changes.
Of course, I don’t think I have created a perfect state of predictability, but I am trying to maintain consistency and transparency by writing my thoughts in this way itself (once I write them down as words, I can create implicit pressure on myself because I have to keep consistency). I will continue to increase predictability as I verbalize myself.