It used to be that if you asked someone to do something, it got done immediately. In the “old days” your employees listened and acted exactly as you said. That’s how they kept their job. But today, because of the swarm of communication that happens in a day – directives, projects, initiatives, emails, face-to-face conversations and instant messages – it isn’t easy for an employee to intake all the details, especially verbally, and then prioritize them correctly and get them done right with one request. Even if you think you are being crystal clear.
Some of it is their fault and some is yours as the boss. Today, if you assume that one conversation will bring the exact action you want, it will often lead to damage control, crisis or just high levels of frustration when it doesn’t happen just as you wanted.
A Harvard Business Review article, “Effective Managers Say The Same Thing Twice (or More)” makes an interesting assertion. According to research, the key in getting things done is not just in clarity of message (as I certainly assumed). Getting things done, according to the article and research, requires making your presence felt by staying top of mind. How? Redundancy.
If you describe a project that needs to get done verbally and follow up with an email describing the details of what needs to get done, the success in execution goes up dramatically.
But really, who has time to be redundant? If I say it once, it should just get done, right? But, today that is simply not the case. And, by being redundant, aren’t you just adding to the problem by continuing to overload them with communication?
The key is to assume (just humor me on this one) that your employees are like your clients. They don’t have to take your recommendations, but if they do they will be better off. In the case of clients, we need to be compelling and get buy-in as to why they should do something. What would happen if we spent a few extra minutes and did that with our employees? It may take more time on the upfront, but likely a lot more will get done quickly.
One of the big reasons that redundancy in delegation works is due to the fact that there is a significant difference between a directive and persuasive messaging. Telling someone to just “do it” because it’s their job often falls flat today. Sharing with someone the “why” for doing something and asking them to do it doubles the effectiveness. And, making your request in more than one medium increases your chances for success (ie. verbally and through email, or email and phone conversation).
Develop a system for being redundant. Sounds silly maybe, but if you repeat in a clear communication the directive you just made, you are respecting your staff by giving them the clarity and understanding they need to take timely action. And that in turn brings action. Spending a few more minutes on your side will bring higher morale and getting more things done. It may be worth a try! It may be worth a try!!