As said above, when we need someone to fulfil a task, we need to ensure that person achieves the best ration between effort and performance. We need to give clear and understandable instructions. We can use some of the following tips:
- Give all the details. We shouldn’t assume that people know what we mean. Eugene Lewis Fordsworthe, an American philosopher said the assumption is the mother of all mistakes. People are not mind readers. We always need to be clear, specific, detailed and to provide the context of an instruction we give when we need a task to be performed. For example if we ask someone to send some questionnaires to few stakeholders, we need to state to how many stakeholders, how to select them, and what questionnaire.
- Give exact time frames. What someone considers to be “soon” might be different for another person. It can vary from next two hours to next two days and it can impact seriously a project or a process.
- Give examples. This is beneficial when the person hasn’t performed the task before and it will help him/her to have a clearer picture of what we mean and expect.
- Remember that the “tone makes the music”. We should ask politely, speak at a reasonable volume, and use kind and respectful words when asking someone to perform a task. And “please” is not to be forgotten!
- Allow the other person to ask for questions for a better understanding of the instructions. We need to allow time and encourage the other person to ask questions because the chances for a successful result are higher.
- Make sure (s)he understands correctly our instructions. “Do you understand?” is not enough to check if our instructions are understood properly, because the temptation to say “yes” is much higher than to answer an honest “no”. Instead, we can use “What do you have to do first?”, “And then?”, and let the other person to repeat or paraphrase our instructions.