Here is your next tip on being more influential and having more impact on your organization. Apply these to become more effective with colleagues, superiors and clients.
- Are you frustrated because one or more of your direct reports isn’t delivering?
- Did you know that YOU may be part of the problem?
The next four weeks we will be covering “The Four Factors For Superlative Leadership Communication.”
Are You Frustrated?
A frustration I often hear from leaders goes something like this:
“Dave, I don’t get it. I told Susan I needed this project done and she still hasn’t gotten my anything.”
The complaint happens when a direct report doesn’t deliver on a request. They miss the mark either by not delivering what the leader wanted or by missing the time frame or both.
When I dig into the situation, I find the responsibility for the problem often rests with the leader. There are four mistakes leaders make that lead to this problem. Behind each mistake lies a key factor or strategy a leader can incorporate to have iron-clad effectiveness when communicating with their people. We will cover them one at a time over the next four weeks.
Factor #1: Attach a Specific Deadline To Your Request
I want to begin with the one I think is easiest to fix: when you make a request, make sure you attach a specific time frame or deadline. This may seem obvious, but most of the time there are expectation mismatches between leaders and their direct reports, this element is missing.
I often find the leader soft-pedaled the request:
“Susan, when you get a chance, in between all the other crazy projects you’re doing,
can you get me the latest sales data on Product X?”
A few hours pass and the leader is annoyed because the data isn’t in their hands. The leader is outraged when a few days later, they still don’t have it!
Now it would be nice if your employee would ask, “Sure, when do you need it?” (I would coach the employee to do just that.) But there is no denying that the responsibility lies with the leader to make sure this part of the request is known.
We live in a time where everyone has too much on their plates. Priorities don’t seem to exist because everything is important and urgent. So it is usually unfair to expect your employee to read your mind and navigate those priorities.
So don’t leave it to chance – this factor is very easy to incorporate (although sometimes when I work with people, I find they are uncomfortable as leaders imposing deadlines – fodder for a future article).
The request may look something like this:
“Susan, will you email me last month’s sales data for Product X when you get a chance?
I need it today, no later than 2 PM. Will that work for you?”
Not too demanding, but the time frame is crystal clear. Also, notice I asked for a response to make sure the request was understood and accepted.
Leadership Coaching Challenge
Be intentional about adding specific deadlines to your requests. You may find that your direct report really isn’t an irresponsible slacker – they just need some clarity from their leader!
If you want to truly become an influential leader, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of my good friend and partner in ‘Influential Leadership Tips’ Dave Miller’s book The Influential Actuary. Don’t be fooled by the title, the concepts work for all professionals who want to increase their influence. It will walk you step-by-step through all of the skills you need to become and be seen as an influential leader.
(Contributed by David C Miller.)