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Seb Anthony

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How does a manager provide clarity and direction to employees.


I have my own ideas and standards obviously, but was wondering if any new themes towards these issues has come to light recently.

I have been training personnel for many years now and giving a focus and vision whilst obviously being paramount, communciation and constructive, accepted feedback is also so very vital.

Any further comments are gratefully accepted.

clive clifford

5 Responses

  1. Outcomes
    One of the key things that I’ve encountered time and again, is the need for managers to learn to communicate the desired outcome and deadline, rather than the intimate detail of how a task should be done.

    Of course, we’re touching on the good old topic of the difference between a manager and a leader, however . . .

    I’m sure this is old news to you, but it surprises me how many managers feel they are providing direction and “getting things done” by asking someone to do something and then explaining exactly how it should be done, rather than allowing the employee to find the answer. So many times managers (some of them quite experienced) are taken aback when we advise them to let go of the control, just explain what result you want to see, and how urgent it is, and then pass the responsibility to the employee, asking them to confirm that they know what to do and what you’re expecting of them.

    Hardly 21st Century stuff, but still incredibly valid.

  2. Managing Managers

    Firstly, I agree entirely with Jonathan’s comments. To which I would also add this observation:

    It has been my experience with many managers that they are actually “micro managing” by mistake rather than by intention.

    What new born managers are seldom if ever taught is how to ensure that the instructions they give have been fully and ACCURATELY understood. So they issue an instruction, DON’T get the feedback that would make them feel comfortable, don’t know how to ask for the feedback they are looking for (possibly because they don’t even realise that is what they need), and so they start trying to carry out their own instructions, or “micro managing”.

    So, teach managers how to communicate instructions AND how to get the appropriate feedback, and you remove the uncertainty and the perceived need for micro managing.

    Of course a few managers just like micro managing, for one reason or another. But that’s a different story ūüôā

    Be well

    Andy B.

  3. Simplicity and things Military
    Let me suggest the following web sites on simplicity (& clarity) in the workplace:

    This is the site of Bill Jensen, author of several excellent books on simplicity in the workplace – including the “Simplicity Survival Handbook”. No connection!

    Also – look at the hedgehog stuff and level 5 leadership.

    Finally, from my RAF days:


    Situation – the context – why we are going to do what I am about to brief you on.

    Mission – our aims and objectives in detail – if you like think of it as a ‘destination’ – the route is to be figured out by the team with support perhaps from the boss.

    Execution – specifics on what you can, can’t do in achieving the mission. It is quite possible that a plan is laid down at this stage by the boss, or that execution starts with the team formulating something.

    Ask questions – this is where those being briefed – the team – can ask questions around anything and everything presented up to now.

    Check understanding – this is where the boss checks the understanding in the team by asking questions designed to demonstrate the deeper understanding if the situation in the team – so stay away from too many yes/no or closed questions – use how, why, what, when, where, and who questions.

    If you need to repeat the briefing, do so.

    It is normal, time permitting, for the boss to read out the whole brief first, then repeat it slowly so that the team members can take notes etc in a more interactive manner. This is because questions arising at the start of the brief may be answered later in the brief, and interruptions can disrupt the mental flow!


    Martin Schmalenbach

  4. It’s true!!!
    Working with a local government body recently I discovered (I have survey proof!!!) that middle management are clouding the clarity and direction coming down from higher management when they pass it on to front line management. Approx 77% of surveyed middle managers thought they did a good job of providing clarity and direction, yet only 34% of front line managers felt they got sufficient clarity and direction from their line management.

    I don’t believe this is deliberate in the sense of being malicios, I think it says more about the culture and history of management in the organisation – knowledge is power is part of it, as is the desire not to hurt other people’s feelings (or even, and I quote, to violate their human rights) by being the harbinger of uncomfortable information or of having to order people to do things.

    And for the same reasons few front line managers feel equipped or moved to challenge the quality of what is coming down to them.

    Now how does one go about sorting that?!


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