Asking someone to do something is as naturally a part of conducting business as being asked. Employees need to know what is and is not negotiable in a way that defines specific requirements without dictating too tightly their way of accomplishing it.
The most obvious approach to asking someone to perform a task is simply to ask them. Differences in why some requests are met with contempt, complacency, or anxiety while others are well-received vary with each personality. Expressing the request as a need with a deadline can communicate a sense of trust in their ability to fulfill the task. It recognizes their need to prioritize their workload. It sets up a natural order for monitoring progress and follow up. It places the principles above the personalities.
The C.E.O. of one of the world’s largest apparel makers said that an environment of uncertainty produces a lot of fear. Some people need more direction than others, but all need an idea of when a task needs to be completed. Managers need to control some variables more than others. Employees need to know whether there are any specifics or if they are to use their own judgment. Deadlines are not reserved for time-sensitive tasks with dire consequences if missed such as those by physicians, news journalists and other professionals. Knowing when a task needs to be completed is a tool to help employees plan their time wisely. Communicating this points employees in the right direction. Ask if they have questions. Answer them directly. Avoid over-explaining unless prompted. Agree on a time to meet to review progress. This tact helps ensure they are comfortable with the work. Training involves more than teaching employees how to do a job. It means conveying how you want it done and why.
Managing people with finesse includes taking time to understand and acknowledge their strengths. People appreciate being recognized not only for their contribution, but also having their talents noticed. The chairman of a top hotel empire put it this way: Motivate your people, train them, care about them, and make winners out of them.
There is another piece of information most employees will not request, but that every human being needs once in awhile. Tell them what they are known for doing well within your company and thank them for it. Send a clear message that they are valued not only for what they do, but for who they are.