Having and showing direction is like providing a roadmap to a destination. As a leader and manager, your task is to establish the desired goal (the destination) and the objectives that must be accomplished along a timeline to reach that state. You identify the direction the organization needs to follow based on data, insight, and analysis. Your direction moves the organization where it needs to be to remain viable and successful.
Delegate the tactics employed to those more closely associated with task execution to reach your objectives. Your roadmap of goals and objectives must be clearly articulated and provide context that allows your employees to move independently toward your mutually agreed upon destination.
A key component of having and showing direction involves establishing performance boundaries in terms of time, cost, and risk management. It’s your job to generate excitement to motivate those executing the roadmap. John Reh, in his article “How to Provide Directions to Your Team Members” provides seven communication practices to help you effectively communicate tasks and guidance to your employees:
7 Positive Communication Practices for Offering Task Directions (from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-provide-directions-to-your-team-members)
- Always provide context for the task to be completed. People do their best work when they understand the importance of the task to the larger operation. When you take the time to explain the business importance of the task you are requesting to be completed, you are teaching and you are showing respect for the individual you asking to complete the work.
- Be specific, outlining when the task must be completed and sharing any quality standards.
- Ask respectfully versus issuing a stern command. Choose a respectful tone of voice, polite words and deliver the message with the appropriate volume. Contrast: “Hey, you need to go unload that truck,” said in a stern tone to, “John, the shipment on that truck is needed on the production line. Would you please help out and unload the truck before noon?” There is little doubt the latter approach would be perceived as positive and the former as negative.
- Offer the individual being asked to complete the task the opportunity to ask clarifying questions. This step helps strengthen communication between the employee and supervisor and improves the probability of a successful outcome. The employee has the opportunity to confirm that he or she truly understands what is being asked of them.
- Resist the urge to oversee or micromanage the employee’s completion of the requested task. Part of learning to give directions effectively is learning to trust the individuals you are asking for help.
- Offer appropriate thanks and positive feedback for jobs completed properly.
- Offer clear, behavioral, focused feedback for any tasks that are completed improperly.