Little habits to help managers with ‘Nothing Gets Done’ — Part 2
Little Habit #2 — Communicate the ‘why’
Another super-common thing I see Accidental Managers often do is telling people what to do and even how to do it instead of explaining the why: what is the goal or problem to be solved or the context surrounding the request.
For starters, it shouldn’t be a job of a manager to define ‘the how’. Team members are experts in their respective fields and it could feel disrespectful, condescending and unmotivating to be told how they should do their jobs. Let them use their knowledge to come up with ‘the how’, it is empowering and shows your trust in their expertise and abilities.
Secondly, by doing so you can actually point your team in the wrong direction. If the why is not explained, it’s very common for the team to think that the goal is ‘to do what you told them’. Moreover, in an attempt to fill in the information gap, they will likely come up with a guess of why you asked for that. And let me tell you, their guess would almost never be right. What’s worse, this made-up context could also distort the solution, which is the very last thing you want.
Always make sure you communicate ‘the why’ behind a task, request or project. Not only does telling the story enhances a sense of purpose and motivation for completing the work, but it gives the team context along with other information they might need. It also widens the team’s perspective and can lead to creative solutions you might have not thought of yourself!
During the next work week, I encourage you to observe yourself and work on establishing or strengthening this habit.
Pay attention to how you are starting emails, messages and requests.
I like using the following structure:
- Why do you need something and how it fits into a large picture (the company’s business)
- What do you need and by when
- If you are addressing multiple people, don’t forget about Little Habit #1 and make it very clear who should be doing what.
Hey Victor, I am working with Product Management and the customer on use cases for our upcoming piece of development work and I am not quite sure how our algorithm currently works in terms of calculating the start date. Can you please double-check the code for me and confirm whether it uses the activation date or commissioning date?
Tiny habit — large impact!