Supervisory Leadership

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What do you do when employees misinterpret what you say?

I'm not sure there's a "morning after" solution for this problem that would work with all the variations, but there are several good preventative measures. They're important because bosses tend to think they do a far better job of communicating than is actually the case.

When I work with an organization we often survey the bosses and their subordinates to get a comparison of views on several leadership issues. One of those is the ability to give clear directions.

Usually, two thirds or more of the bosses think they give good directions. Their subordinates disagree, with usually half or more thinking their boss gives lousy directions. Since bosses haven't been trained to ask for feedback, this can be a significant disconnect.

The first step, obviously, is to get the boss to check and see if the message got through. Active listening skills should be a part of this, but I also suggest that the boss require the suboriniate to summarize the discussion in an email.

Wally

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