Giving Instructions

Work instructions come in various strengths.  How strongly you make a request depends on the situation and the team member/s.

Emergencies and dangerous situations, for example, require prompt action.  They call for clear, decisive instructions.  You may not even have the time to explain them.

At the other end of the scale are situations where there are options and enough time.  Here, you can afford to take a more considered approach.

The people you work with may have different skill levels and expectations of their jobs, too.  Those who are highly motivated and self-directed generally respond best to instructions that state the end result and let them decide the best way to achieve it.  People who are just learn­ing a job need step-by-step directions.  Those lacking motivation need frequent guidance.

It’s ok to use a direct approach, and even call on your formal authority, when giving instructions that must be followed without question.  For example, if a team member is engaged in an unsafe work practice, prompt action is required and you may need to resort to giving a direct order.

Occasionally, there may be team members who, because of past experiences or their attitude to the job, respond only to direct instructions.

Explicit instructions spell out the what and the how.  They state the result or goal that’s required and describe, step by step, how to achieve it.  Explicit instructions are good to use with new, unskilled or inexperienced team members.

Generally, though, under normal working situations, direct and explicit instructions can cause re­sentment.  Too many commands and direct orders often reflect unsure or immature managers and rarely achieve more than grudging compliance.

When cooperation is lacking, team members will rarely do more than what you specifically tell them.  This stifles initiative, creativity, suggestions and ideas and you then face the problem of directing reluctant staff.

So, avoid giving direct and explicit instructions if you can take another approach.  If you use this type of instruction only occasionally, team members will know it is for a particularly good reason and will respond more positively.

Give instructions in the right way to ensure the job gets done!

Working Safely at Heights

Working at Heights is a high risk job. If you are required to work at heights as part of your job role, it is crucial that you have undergone the appropriate training and are deemed competent before attempting to work at heights.

In one year, 2010-2011 there were 7,730 serious injuries reported resulting from a fall from heights in Australia. In Australia between the dates 1st of July 2003 to the 30th June 2011, there were 232 fatalities from falls from heights1. Although some accidents are inevitable, a lot of these could have been avoided with the appropriate training, procedures and competency on site.

Continue reading “Working Safely at Heights”

A Glance at Personalities!

Often feuds are caused by differing opinions stemmed by different personalities.  Our personality shapes our behaviour, so if we want to better understand the behaviour of someone in an organisation, it helps if we know something about his or her personality.

When psychologists talk of personality, they mean a dynamic concept describing the growth and development of a person’s whole psychological system.  Rather than looking at parts of the person, personality looks at some aggregate whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.   The most frequently used definition of personality was produced by Gordon Allport nearly 70 years ago.  He defined personality as:

Continue reading “A Glance at Personalities!”

Listening to Win!

Listening is a critical skill in any leadership setting for two reasons.   First, listening allows the leader to collect information which can help the individual, team or organisation to succeed.  Second, listening and respecting confidentiality allows the leader to create trusting relationships with others.

Are You Listening to Win?

Consider the following:

  • Do you try to understand what others think before making judgments?
  • Do you authentically encourage people to share their views?
  • Are you good at thinking of things through others perspective?
  • Are you able to accept constructive feedback and make necessary changes in my coaching behavior?

Steps to Winning Listening

If you answered no to the above, it’s okay.  The good news is that listening is a skill that can be learned. Here are seven steps we can all practice to become better listeners with others.

  • Be in the moment: If you don’t have the time or energy to listen in the moment, set a time when you can give your undivided attention.
  • Set the tone: Show your person that you are open to hearing by using relaxed words and body language.
  • Pay attention: Make a mental decision to listen carefully.   Show your interest with eye contact and relaxed body language.
  • Withhold judgment: Try to be open to new ideas and constructive criticism.   If your thoughts are turning into opinions, take a breath and suspend judgment until after hearing the person through.   Even when good listeners have strong views, they suspend judgment, hold their criticism and avoid arguing or selling their point right away.
  • Reflect & clarify: Paraphrase what you heard the speaker say, and ask clarifying questions to make sure you really understand.
  • Share: As you gain a clear understanding of what the person is saying, begin to introduce your thoughts and feelings on the matter.   If possible, talk about a time when you or someone you know was in a similar situation.  Be brief.
  • Problem solve: Use your judgment to decide how best to go about encouraging the speaker to solve the issue presented.  The best approach will depend on the individual and the overall situation.

Remember that “We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.”  Diogenes.

Importance of Education

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, there has always been a huge emphasis on education.  From being sent to bed at 8pm on a ‘school night’ to being forced to do your homework before the TV could be switched on.  As children we’d always be asked ‘and what do you want to be when you grow up?’  Answers usually were ambitious from doctors and nurses to astronauts and scientists. The importance of education, right then, at 5 years old was stressed with adult figures telling us we’d need to stay in school and study really hard to achieve that.

However, if we cast back to 50 years ago, it was the norm for individuals to leave school as young as 15.  In many cases it would be known that their future would be to take over the family business, run the farm or be employed by the local factory to help provide for their family.  Education was seen as a second priority to providing for your family.  In the past, individuals would have been hired without experience or an education.  On the job training would have been provided.

Continue reading “Importance of Education”