Try this quick exercise. Pretend that a friend is an employee and that you need to give him an assignment specific to your business. The catch is you have only 20 words or fewer to fully convey what you need. Have your friend tell you, based on those words, what it is exactly that you were asking or assigning. How good are you at expressing your needs coherently, and—just as importantly—concisely?
As a leader, it is important that you understand the impact that the sequence of information has on employees when you are discussing assignments with them. If you are not always on the same page as your employees, try beginning your messages with the main point and then delivering relevant details afterwards, if necessary. This gets your workers thinking in the correct frame of mind right from the start.
When you try to be more direct and concise with employees you may initially feel somewhat aggressive. If this style of interaction is a departure from what is normal for your office environment, let employees know that you are trying something different and ask them for their feedback. Though assertiveness may sometimes be mistaken for aggressiveness when you talk to employees in a succinct style, in the end your people will know what is expected of them—and that will put them at ease.
Keith Ayers President Integro Leadership Institute West Chester, Pa.