We constantly run into problems of communication in delegating tasks, whether it be with our family, friends, colleagues or our customers. It is amazing how such small conversations that we have day in and day out greatly affect our outlook, or contain important information that we sometimes easily forget. Even better is when we try to convey a message to someone, and they do not fully comprehend or understand. In those moments, I always ask myself, and sometimes even ask the person, “Was I not clear?” Did I not say to do A, B, C, AND D? Did you think that you could just take the first and last steps and forget all of the steps in between?

And in asking myself those questions, I look back at what the conversation really was, what was said, what I remember, how the tone of the conversation was going, and think about being in that persons shoes. It is always so much easier to understand where the other person is coming from if you take an honest look at the situation from their shoes. In those moments, whether brief and fleeting or long and thoughtful, I usually come to realize a reasoning as to why they were doing what they did, or said what they said, even if I thought I was being clear at the time. Taking that information of where you think they were coming from, and then seeing where the differences were, helps to seal up any problems or discrepancies, and helps to teach everyone an important lesson.

If you find you are not being clear or there are difficulties in someone completing delegated tasks, here is a small list my mother used to help make sure that I understood what and how to do things. Put these into place the next time you are delegating tasks, or explaining a process to someone.

  1. Explain. Clearly define what it is you want and how you want it done. If necessary, have them write it down.
  2. Demonstrate. Go through the process step by step in how you want them to accomplish the task, and what it is you will be evaluating.
  3. Trial. Have them preform the task so that you can see how they would do the process.
  4. Critique. This is the most difficult step, but also one of the most vital. This is the first chance you have at looking at any potential problems, mistakes or discrepancies, and how you can easily and quickly remedy them. If necessary, go through the steps over again.

Make sure that they know they can come to you with any questions, concerns or problems to help them better their processes. In keeping that door open, you are allowing them to come and improve, while also keeping them comfortable to ask questions they may or may not know the answers to. And after trying these four steps, if they still are not doing the process as you want them, it might be possible you need to work on your communication skills. We will focus on that in another post later this month on how to improve your communication skills.

Question: How do you help people understand and improve a delegated task?

Was I not Clear?

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