The #1 Overlooked New Manager Communication Skill

The #1 Overlooked New Manager Communication Skill
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Delegating with Purpose
One of the top skills a new manager must learn is how to delegate effectively. Often, those new to people management find it difficult to give up tasks they feel they can do perhaps better than their direct reports. And until they learn to trust their team, they also don’t fully trust that the tasks will be accomplished in a timely fashion. They fall prey to the number one overlooked new manager communication skill.

These two hurdles must be overcome if new people managers want to lead and grow their team.

The Critical Why
A key aspect of delegating as a new people manager is to do it with purpose. Know the task, know the person who has the competency and commitment to complete it, and be able to clearly communicate the “why.”

Most managers are fairy adept at explaining the “what” and the “how” of a task. They can typically define what needs to be done (the content) and the way it can be accomplished (the process). But unless they include the critical “why,” employees may not be motivated to carry it out. Messages that lack the “why” are less persuasive and compelling.

Imagine your boss asking you to manage a new project as top priority compared to all the other projects on your plate. You naturally want to know why. Before you are motivated to set aside your current work and rearrange your schedule, you need to be persuaded that this new direction warrants upending your current focus.

How to Define and Articulate the Why
Especially as a new manager, you need to learn to communicate using this often overlooked skill of explaining the reason behind your request. Here are four field-tested tips on how to zero in on the “why” so you can persuasively articulate it to your team:

  1. Ask Yourself a Few What Questions
    To uncover the “why,” try asking questions like: What if we don’t do this? What will it look like if we do? And so what? You may find the “why” revealed.
  2. Insert a “Because”
    Think about what you’re asking your team to do and then insert a “because” – and be prepared to elaborate from the individual, team, customer, and organizational perspectives. Whatever follows will constitute the fundamental purpose of the task.
  3. Cover Various Perspectives
    As you sort through various ideas on how you want to communicate the action you want your team to take, consider explicitly including them in your thought process. With this additional information on what ideas you explored and eliminated, you show that you have carefully and thoroughly thought through the various options.
  4. Ask for their Input
    Whenever possible, actively involve your team in designing work to increase commitment and accelerate change. Just make sure that you provide clear boundaries regarding what is and is not up for debate.

The Bottom Line
Consistently explaining the “why” adds a proven and powerful management tool to your management development toolkit for new managers.  When you provide the rationale behind the action and demonstrate the number one overlooked new manager communication skill, your employees will understand the importance of the request and are more likely to get aligned.

To learn more about how to better manage new teams, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers

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