How to communicate clearly

There is often a big difference between what a manager expects from his employees and what employees think they are supposed to do. You say to an employee, “This needs to be completed ASAP.” What does that mean? In five minutes? In one hour? By the end of day? Here’s another one, “Do a good job.” Is your idea of a good job the same as your employees? Do they really know what a good job looks like?

Think about the expectations you have for your employees’ work performance. Do your expectations match what they think they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it and when they are supposed to finish it? Much of the confusion and dissatisfaction in the workplace occurs when there is no agreement or understanding on the expected outcomes.

It is far more effective to say, “I need this completed by 3:00 because the courier will be here to pick it up for delivery.” Not only is there no confusion regarding your expectations but you have also given an explanation as to why your deadline is important.

If you say, “I need you to organize the products on the shelves so all labels face out. This makes it easier for customers to find what they are looking for,” you’ve defined what it means to do a good job rather than leave your employee in a cloud.

It’s always a good idea to have your employees echo back what you’ve asked them to do so there is no confusion. “Do you understand what I’ve asked you to do and when I need it completed?” is a simple, non-threatening question that helps set the agreement between you and your employee. It also gives you a firm basis on which to evaluate your employee’s performance.

Take time to clearly communicate the performance you expect. Don’t leave employees to guess what you want or to try to interpret your vague instructions. Otherwise they can’t be blamed when they fail to deliver what you expect.

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