Just last week, one of my clients asked his employee to revise a proposal that will be sent to a client. Annoyed, the guy said “What for? I thought I was the lead on this account.”
Does this conversation sound familiar?
Assert Your Authority
Most leaders believe in the power of brainstorming and teamwork, but the problem is, some employees tend to mistake their open-mindedness for weakness. Just because you’re polite and open to suggestions, doesn’t mean that everything you say may be questioned!
As a leader, you must hone your business communication skills so people working with you will know how to differentiate between a directive and a request.
Does it mean making every deadline non-negotiable? Should you stop taking suggestions from your team?
Here’s a Better Idea: Change the Way You Communicate
Be careful with your choice of words and tone of voice. Consider the following:
“It would be great if you could submit your work by lunch tomorrow.”
“I’ll expect your work tomorrow on or before lunch.”
“Please edit your report for Client A, make it more compelling.”
“Your report for Client A isn’t convincing enough, can you please revise it?”
Both statements mean practically the same thing, but the second statements can be interpreted as a suggestion, while the first one is a clear order.
As for your tone of voice, make sure that your voice is loud and clear when you’re talking. This isn’t the time to be shy, so just man up, and look them in the eye when you’re talking.
What if my support staff is stubborn?
Use this simple rebuttal formula. Let’s go back to the second example:
You: “Please edit your report for Client A, make it more compelling.”
Employee A: “Why? It took me 3 days to complete that report, Employee B says it’s great.”
This is a typical excuse. Employee complains, saying that it already took forever to complete the work then segues to add the opinion of someone else to back up his claim.
You: I understand that it takes a lot of time to create a report1, but it needs to be revised2 because it doesn’t have substantial proof to back up the results you’re claiming3”
Let’s dissect this simple formula:
1. Empathize – Show that you understand how they feel by repeating what they said.
2. Reiterate your request – “it needs to be revised”
3. Give a specific reason – the reason should be specific, objective, and reasonable. Don’t just say “because I want you to revise it.”
Using imperatives doesn’t equate to rudeness though, so make sure you add “please” or “kindly” when possible. The same applies when you’re using the rebuttal formula above. If anyone in your staff continues to argue after you’ve provided a reasonable objection, then it’s time to remind him of your position. This is your last resort; don’t use this argument often because doing so will appear as if you’re abusing your power.
Your business communication skills will affect your relationship with your team and image as a leader. Does your voice have a certain air of authority? Do you sound like you know what you’re doing? If you do, then you’ll have no problems getting people to do what you asked.