How To Get In Trouble With Your Staff


Cute joke to illustrate a key point:

A kindergarten pupil told his teacher that he found a cat. She asked him if it was dead or alive. He told her it was dead. She asked him how he knew that. He innocently replied, “Because I pissed in its ear and it didn’t move.” The teacher said, “You did WHAT?” The young pupil replied, “You know, I leaned over and went psssst in its ear and nothing happened.”

And just how does this relate to the title of this article, you might ask. Well, there are many ways of assuming knowledge of what your staff are doing or have done that can be from false perceptions, and, by jumping to wrong conclusions, can get you some intensely upset reactions.

Never Assume Anything

As a boss there are things you can wrongly assume about your staff when asking them to do a specific project or action:

  • That you gave a clear order or direction on something you wanted done by your staff.
  • That they actually knew what you were talking about.
  • That they totally got the message that this was urgent or important to you to get done.
  • That they even know how to do what you asked.
  • That they agree with your order (and don’t secretly feel it is stupid).
  • That they have time to get the request done.
  • That they got it done, when actually they didn’t or only got part of it done and then forgot about it.
  • That they didn’t get it done right or at all.
  • That they don’t love you because they never say so.

Assuming any of the above is often a very big oops.

Observe, Direct and Enquire

The correct actions that should be done when giving orders or directions are:

  • Put it in writing and date it and state when it is to be done by.
  • Make sure that it is fully understood by asking the staff member to tell you what it means in their own words.
  • See what they are in the middle of BEFORE you give the order. They may have a lot of things already on their plate and you are going to frustrate they by asking them to drop everything and embark on something new.
  • Give the relative importance to them so they know how urgent it is.
  • Ask them how they intend to go about doing the order so you can see if they have the right understanding of how to do it.
  • Ask if they agree or disagree with the order. Maybe they know something you don’t and it is an unnecessary order. Really find out.
  • Get them to report compliance to you when they are fully done and ask them exactly what was done and the result.
  • Have a good follow up system (e.g., a diarizing method) so as not to forget to follow up on the order to ensure it gets completed.
  • Give them a wonderful thank you when they have fully done what you have asked. Let them know that you really appreciate their efforts. This earns the love.

Try the above correct way of giving orders instead of snarling when, two months later, you find that what you asked for was not done. Good management leads to good outcomes.

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Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to The Art Of Management Inc. and a clickable link back to this page.


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