Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

As a manager when you follow up with your employees it becomes very clear cut whether or not they understood what you asked them to do.  Stephen Covey’s fifth habit Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood perfectly cradles the effectiveness of your delegation.  If you’re consistently having to re-explain or demonstrate what exactly you want accomplished, it is possible that you are not allowing yourself enough time for the employee to comprehend the given task. 

Before you delegate a task, figure out exactly to the finest detail what you expect as the finished product.  Your ability to understand the task at hand is the first step in understanding what needs to be done and the direction given to you by your supervisor or senior manager.  It is rather logical…if you don’t understand what is expected, how can you delegate effectively?  Two words – you can’t. This is why it is so vital to have a constant grasp of what needs to be done, how it is going to be done, and why it is going to be done.  Without preconceived understanding, you will be in a boat out in the middle of a lake with no paddle. 

Another thing, as a manager if you do not comfortably understand something DO NOT attempt to train your employees. I deal with employees from local and nonlocal stores that have been trained incorrectly on numerous occasions.  The latest that bewildered me was a store manager did not know how long employees were allowed to work until they took their thirty minute meal period.  This particular store manager has been a manager for nearly a decade and hasn’t known this information.  The response I got was…no wonder my payroll is always messed up…           

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About Benjamin Fry

I will graduate in December with a degree in business management at the University of Nevada, Reno. I have held multiple management positions at my current company, Sports Authority. Continuing to further my KSAs in management, motivation and leadership. I feel it necessary to break down the barrier that younger management and older management have built between themselves. With my experience, I plan to aid managers from all ages to understand how to integrate various management styles in order to make businesses more efficient.
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