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Giving direct reports clear directions is one of the most important functions of being a great leader. But here’s the way most managers think about directions: “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”

give employees clear directions

They start with a bad attitude and think that people are just being stupid. Now I’m not saying that some people aren’t a little dull, but the vast majority of people are really capable and sincerely do want to understand what they need to do.

I think I’m the poster child for not making clear at times exactly what I want done. My problem is with that word “exactly”. Maybe you are like me and move at the speed of light. I think I’m communicating, but what’s really happening is that I had the “exact” thoughts in my brain and they never actually came out of my mouth! I was simply moving too fast and left out great big gaps that others couldn’t fill.

Instead of being like me, actually stop and think about what you want done. A bullet pointed written list would go a long way towards increasing understanding.

My team and I are using a service called Trello. This allows us to post things that need to be done online so that we can all see it. Then, we can ask questions in writing so that we can get done what needs to be done.

It’s our way of avoiding the verbal pit of incomplete information. If I can get better at giving more clear directions, then I guarantee that you can.

Stop, consider the other person, list out what needs to be done, and then finally, ask questions to be certain that everyone understands and is on board.

It will prevent you from getting ticked off and shouting out, “Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?”

And you’ll get the very things done that need to be done without the drama. Give clear directions and be cool!