How consistent is your team in delivering what you request? Do they do what you want? Do they deliver what you need? Are they performing the way you expect? If so, congratulations! You have mastered that elusive skill in clearly articulating what it is you expect of others. If not, it’s time to get clearer in how you give directions, ask for support, or suggest changes in output. It’s time to be clear in what you want of others.
Be clear yourself before you ask others to act
In several recent client work sessions, I’ve shared a reality that I see consistently with my clients: Most managers do not clearly articulate what it is they expect and need of their team members. Instead, most often, managers fall into the trap of making generalized statements such as:
- “We need to be more mission-focused.”
- “I need my team to take ownership of their work.”
- “He needs to be a better manager.”
- “We need more leaders here.”
Each of the above statements sounds noble. However, if you were asked to change because of each of the above statements, what specifically would you change? How would you perform differently? What would you focus on developing, doing, or changing? As is, each of the above statements is open to interpretation. Because of that, you are causing your team members to guess. At best, you are giving your team members a 50/50 chance of being correct. To increase your team’s chances of success, ask for clarity and specific examples.
Ask for clarity and specific examples to increase the potential for success
To clarify the needed change, I simply ask my clients things such as:
- “What specifically do you want your team to do differently going forward?”
- “What would it look like if the team did exactly what you wanted?”
- “Specifically, what would your team stop doing and what would they start doing?”
These types of questions invariably cause the manager to stop and visualize for him or herself, what the specific behavior changes and output changes would look like. Once the manager is clear, it’s often much easier to articulate the specific behavioral changes desired of others. However, this basic step is often skipped or not appreciated for its positive impact. When it’s skipped, it starts or adds to strained team relationships. When it’s used, it eliminates waste and confusion, and builds stronger teams.
Strengthen your team by being clearer in what you are asking of them
Before you ask another team member to do something or change something, take a few seconds to be clear yourself in what you are asking of them. Instead of making a generalized, vague request, be specific and leave no doubt in what it is you need and expect.
- Instead of saying: “We need to be more mission-focused,” say “We need to develop strategies that focus on our entire portfolio and not just those currently in transition.”
- Instead of saying: “I need my team to take ownership of their work,” say “I want the team to present individual and team goals for next year.”
- Instead of saying: “He needs to be a better manager,” say “He needs to delegate work evenly throughout his team to develop all of his team members.”
- Instead of saying: “We need more leaders here,” say “We need our managers to not only ensure current operations are running smoothly, but we also need them to each suggest areas of improvement within their respective departments to ensure our organization’s viability over the next 3-5 years.”
Take the time to be clear yourself before you ask others to change. Your team will appreciate the change.
Copyright MMXVI - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!