There is no doubt that effective communication is one of the key skills of leadership at all levels across a company or organisation. This is increasingly important the higher the level from which a message is being delivered. A prime example of this is in the delegation of a task or project. The skills of delegation are for another time; here we examine the actual communication of that task.

The process can easily, although inadvertently, become confused, simply because people further down the company hierarchy are receiving messages from ‘up high’. They might try to read too much into the information they receive or spend time second-guessing some aspects of the task. The result can be, to some degree, an unsatisfactory delivery of the final outcome.

Yet, there are three simple questions – each with the same keyword – which a senior manager can ask of themselves to help provide crystal clear delivery of task guidelines. 

What outcome – specifically – do I require?

‘I knew what I wanted’ is an often-heard comment when a report or project comes back to senior management in an unsatisfactory form. Those undertaking it thought they also knew! Simplifying the requirements, and providing a clear description of how the end result should look, helps those being tasked with the project to achieve the desired goal. 

How – specifically – do I wish the results to be delivered?

It’s not unknown for a leader to want a simple key point summary of possible actions, only to receive a highly-complex 24-page report! It’s fairly natural for those completing the task to try and be as comprehensive as possible – as in those school exams where marks were awarded for the ‘workings out’. The thinking can be that ‘I might not get it exactly right, but at least the effort will be appreciated’. It’s vital that those undertaking the task clearly understand how the end results should appear or be reported.

When – specifically – do I require the results?

There can be a natural reaction from those lower down the hierarchy to drop everything because the boss has asked for something. Current projects, which may be of greater importance or urgency, can be cast aside. Routine procedures can be neglected in the desire to please and to do so as quickly as possible. Yet the actual task might refer to no more than initial consideration of a possible action considerably in the future. Those tasked need to be able to prioritise their actions effectively. 

From above, it’s easy to see that a key skill of leadership is to be specific in all communications. In this way, those being tasked with taking action have the clearest picture of how they should proceed, and what is then expected of them. 

To talk about this, or any other of the many aspects of leadership, please contact our experienced leadership consultant team today.