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Why Can't I Get My Employees To Do What I Need Them To Do?


Picture by George Becker via Pexels

One of the struggles for many leaders is being able to get employees to do what you need them to do. In fact, this is one of the top three reasons why leaders and managers say they don’t delegate more. They fall into the trap of, “it is just easier to do it myself” and become the person in the office who is the most overworked and often stressed out.


There is a saying, “the meaning of communication is in the response you get”. In other words, if someone isn’t doing something you need them to do, then chances are they didn’t understand the instructions you gave them.


Now, I know, I know…there will be some of you that will not initially buy into this idea. If we were standing face to face, you would tell me you have told them over and over what you want them to do and they simply aren’t doing it. This likely is the case, but I personally like to think there is still hope if I were to change my approach, rather than being the one doing all the work. Wouldn’t you agree?


So how do you change your approach?


Did you know there are different types of people when it comes to communication? There are four different approaches:

  • “Why People” – These are individuals who need to understand “why” something needs to be done, in order to feel comfortable doing it. You can identify them because one of there favorite questions is….why?

  • “What People” – These are individuals who like to have a lot of detail about “what” is important in them doing a task. You can identify them because they like to have lots of detail when it comes to doing something.

  • “How People” – These are individuals who like to understand “how” to do something. They want to know the steps that should be taken and often want to figure out “how” something works.

  • “What If People” – These are individuals who like to run scenarios before they do something. You can identify them, because they will ask you questions like, “What if this happens or that happens?”

Each of us falls predominantly into one of these categories. We all think everyone communicates the way we do, but not so. In the cases where one of your employees shares a similar approach to you, then likely you have little problem. In cases where they might have a different one, is where communication might be falling apart.


The trick is to determine whether your employees has a “Why”, “What”, “How” or “What If” approach to communication and then making sure you provide the information in a way that they can understand.


A couple of examples. If you notice an employee asking the question “Why” a lot, then the next time you give them a task, make sure you tell them “why” it is important for them to get it done. Instead of saying, “can you please clean out the shelf”, try instead, “I need you to clean out that shelf, because we have new stock coming in tomorrow and I want to be able to get it placed quickly”. If you know you have someone who is a “what if” and likes to run scenarios, instead of saying, “can you take this stock back to the storage locker”, try instead, “please take this stock back to the storage locker and if you find there is no room for it, then just stack it beside the door.”


Chances are with a few simple changes in your communication, you will find it a whole lot easier to speak directly to the approach that works well with each employee. It might seem like some work up front, but I can guarantee before long, it will be you with a whole lot less of it.