You carefully explained what needed to be done, in detail, gave the deadline and even suggested interim deadlines.
You mapped out how it might be done, and by whom. They were suggestions, not orders.
Best of all, you laid out the results you expected. You focused on the outcome rather than the process, and this ensured that in no way were you micromanaging.
Yet, the result was underwhelming. What happened?
You answered four questions for your team: Who? What? When? and How? You didn’t say why, and you can’t assume that your employees will connect the dots.
Explaining why puts the desired result in context. It gives your people a reason to do what they’re supposed to do. It clarifies their roles.
Best of all, it gives them a way to come up with even more and better solutions.
Bottom line: Sit down with your team and explain why, along with all that other stuff that follows from it.
If you haven’t already, open up the books so they’ll understand how this project or campaign fits into the scheme of things. Answer questions and field any other ideas that come along.
— Adapted from “The One Question Every Successful Leader Must Answer (Even Before It Is Asked),” Terry Starbucker, www.terrystarbucker.com/2010/02/08.