You were told all the way through your formative years that you should treat others the way you want to be treated. If you want to be most effective, stop that. I am going to argue that there are multiple management techniques that one should consider and I will argue that these techniques are most effective when you tune them to the person with which you are dealing.
First, we have to understand the forms of communications you’re likely to use as a manager. There are four key communication tactics: guidance, coaching, delegation, and feedback. Often there are different definitions of these words but it’s time to get on the same page.
Coaching is focused on developing specific techniques. For entry level positions, it’s about practicing the fundamentals. Some of the coaching we provide our new associates are “be as specific as you can be accurate,” or “answer the question and then explain.” These are fundamental techniques that anyone can apply to their professional career. But as you work with more senior people coaching becomes less about fundamentals and more about ways to achieve excellence and foster innovation.
Guidance is about behavioral philosophy and general rules. Say you're working with a team of people at different levels. If you’re about to send one of your new hires on a business trip, you might tell them something like: when you’re traveling on business you represent the firm all the time. It’s concrete and specific. But say you notice one of your mid-level people is trying to take on more responsibility and be a leader in the group, however they’re making people feel like they aren’t being heard. Clear guidance you can give that mid-level employee is something like: you need to find a way to make people feel like they’re being listened to.
Delegation is about clear assignments and clear outcomes. To scale operations, you need to delegate tasks. But you need to adjust what you’re saying depending on who you’re delegating to. Junior employees need step-by-step instructions whether they think so or not. By nature of their role they lack experience and most likely won’t be able to interpret general instructions the way you’d like them to. But with senior employees all they really need to know are the outcomes you’re trying to drive.
Feedback is used to enforce good behavior or fix a problem. What makes feedback different from coaching or guidance is it is best used around a specific instance. With junior people, feedback needs to be immediate and very specific. But with more senior employees it’s better to offer them a more gentle correction privately to respect their position.
So, modulate your communication based on the type of communication (feedback, delegation, guidance, coaching) AND the maturity and experience of the person with whom you’re speaking. When you think about the type of person you’re talking to and the kind of conversation you need to have, you can greatly improve the positive impact of your communications and the effectiveness of your team.
Want to discuss professional communications on a deeper level? Contact one of our communication specialists today.