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Let me explain this to you …

Share information that sinks in

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

You may know more than your employees, but that won’t matter much unless you can explain things well. As jobs become more specialized, your talent for helping others understand complex ideas and apply what you tell them takes on greater importance.

Great managers not only pass along information, but they also make it easily accessible. Here’s how:

Pose a riddle. Rather than explain something right off the bat, stoke your employees’ curiosity by presenting a kind of brain-teaser. This turns an otherwise dry exercise into a game.

Say you want to introduce a new hire to a complicated audit process. Inject some fun and mystery into the topic by asking, “What do you think lunch, erasers and a full tank of gas have to do with you mastering our auditing procedures?”

Then explain that the process begins with a trust-building lunch where he’ll discuss the audit with a manager. Next, he’ll erase preliminary assumptions as he gathers fresh numbers. Finally, he’ll visit far-flung field offices to confirm his findings.

Number the steps. Break down complex explanations into steps. But rather than give the employee a handout with your prepared list, have him take notes and number each stage as you discuss it.

Use questions. To ensure you don’t lecture and lose your audience, lace your explanation with questions. For instance, periodically ask, “What else would you want to know before you get started?” or “What do you think happens next?”

Ask for a demo. After you explain what you want someone to do, leave time for a demonstration. Encourage your employee to show—not just repeat—that the message has sunk in. Don’t sit back and fold your arms; provide support and guidance every step of the way.

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