The ability to communicate expectations and instructions clearly and respectfully
What is it?
Directing others is the way a manager communicates expectations and gives instructions to others. Without coordinated effort, employees would be all over the board. It’s the manager’s job to get people working together and pulling in the same direction.
Why is it important?
Telling others what to do and how to do it is a delicate skill. If you come down too hard, some people will feel patronized and demoralized. If you are more laissez-faire and let people figure things out for themselves, they might feel lost and not know what you want. And you certainly can’t hold them responsible for delivering a product that wasn’t clearly articulated. When that happens, everyone’s frustrated.
Communicate Expectations Clearly
First of all, we need to be very clear about our expectations. We need to lay out assignments with specific, measurable criteria for success. If you are not good at this on the fly, write it down and practice it before you meet with your employee. Many employees would welcome clear directives; they often feel like it’s a guessing game to figure out what the boss wants. After communicating your expectations and instructions, ask if there are any questions. Make sure your employee knows what is being requested of him or her.
Hold Reports Accountable
Direct reports need to be held accountable for the things they are expected to do. This doesn’t need to be an ugly, confrontational mess. All you need to say is, “Bob, you said you would be able to deliver this report by June 1. That hasn’t happened. Help me understand what is going on.” If you see the benefit of granting an extension, then do so. If not, reassign the task to someone else. It sends a powerful message to your employee.
Address Performance Problems Early
Finally, if you sense that a direct report has a poor attitude or is not performing up to standard, set up a meeting and deal with the issue directly. Give your perspective on the employee’s poor performance using concrete evidence and personal observations and invite the employee to give his or her side of the story. Make sure you listen to their perspective and try to be understanding. At the end of the conversation, let them know that you need their help on the team, that you believe in them and that you expect their attitude or behavior to change. Then, thank them for their time.