Attention to detail in the workplace shows care, professionalism, and gives a recipient the ability to trust that what you produce is a good work product.
Let’s explore some simple examples.
When you receive an email with a glaring typo, what do you think? Sure, it could be an honest mistake (and usually is), but it suggests that someone was in a hurry, or was very familiar with the person they were communicating with (and therefore casual about the message), or simply didn’t take the time to proofread and/or figure out if they were using the correct term.
Although (usually) not career limiting, these kinds of mistakes make the writer seem sloppy or careless.
Working Toward Clear Verbal Communication
As an attorney, I am asked for advice regularly. Just today, when someone repeated back to me something I (supposedly) said, I corrected them. They thought I said “X” when I actually said “Y.” The distinction was seemingly small, but had big repercussions.
I took time to explain that what I said was something different than what they heard, and I was grateful they checked in to confirm their understanding. I repeated what I had originally said so they could hear the distinction.
But too often, we leave a meeting thinking we’ve “got it” only to realize we cannot clearly articulate the understanding that came out of such encounter.
When we put together a presentation, a report, or any written material, this is a record of our ‘profile’ at the workplace. We often go through such a document thoroughly and ensure that we have not missed anything. We double check the numbers, and make sure that all the cool “whiz bang” features work.
Similarly, when we’re giving a verbal presentation, we often rehearse, and make sure we have fully prepared.
Rarely would we allow a large, formal report to go unchecked – multiple times.
Taking Time for the “Small” Tasks
But it’s the little day to day things that often get us in trouble. Like the reference to the email above, or a hurried voicemail message. How many times have you received a message and have no idea the number of the caller, since they rushed though it so quickly?
Even the complete READING of emails can trap us. I have had more than one time where I misread the contents of an email because I did not slow down and make sure I understood all the pieces before I went forward. And I’ve had the same thing happen to me. An email already received would have answered the question, if it had been reviewed carefully.
This attention to detail may seem silly and nit-picking during our fast-paced lives, but it shows the amount of care we put into a certain project. And from a big picture perspective, when we consistently approach our tasks with more care, our overall work product becomes stellar. And that’s why it matters.
Just like when you give a thoughtful gift for your honey on his/her birthday, she or he expresses delight at the genuine time and care that went into the preparation. The same principle applies here.
It’s the thought – and the follow-through action – that counts.
How do you show attention to detail in the workplace?
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.