Use these 10 steps to boost your own communication skills and gain better results when you practice and put into effect this valuable tool! Communicate with clarity. Communicate with accountability!
Step 1 – Request:
Clearly define the desired outcome of what you are intending to communicate to the other person or persons. Think of it as starting with the end in mind. If you’re not clear, they will not be clear either.
Step 2 – Ask:
Ask the other person, “How clear is my request on a scale of one to ten?” Of course, depending on their response, you may have to go back and explore the area or areas to which there may not be clear. Do this until you get an answer of at least a nine or 10 on the scale. Again, you are seeking ultimate clarity.
Step 3 – Discussion:
Allow the other person or persons to participate in some sort of dialogue. This may include but not be limited to any questions, concerns or lack of clarity they may have about what it is in actuality that you are requesting that they do.
Step 4 – Play Back:
Ask people to then play back what they have understood you to say and/or have heard. This is an important part of this process before you go forward. If they are hearing red, however you meant green, you really have nothing. Think about it!
Step 5 – Recap:
Depending upon the person to who you are conversing with, you or the other person may then summarize again to ensure ultra clarity before moving forward. By ‘recap,’ we mean to play back what it is that the other person heard; not necessarily in its entirety, but enough for the other person to feel that both of you are on the same page.
Step 6 – Time Lines:
Without time lines in the accountability process, we really have nothing. Your conversation merely becomes just a bunch of talk versus completed action. So be sure to establish the timeframe for the item or task that you have requested.
Step 7 – Support
Be sure to ask what help and/or resources others need from you and/or your company to ensure completion of the requested item. This is where you begin to become a real coach. Remember, you want to help or support them; however, you do not want to do this for them, which is enabling and in the end, you will be working harder because you will be doing their job for them.
Step 8 – Check-In:
Between the start of the requested outcome and the committed timeframe of completion, be sure to touch base with the person(s) to best insure they are on schedule. We refer to these as “check-ins” which means periodically checking in(distinctive of micromanaging) to ask how they are doing, how can you support them and maybe even a question about where they stand on the percentage of completion. Check-ins have two benefits: 1) It lets the other person know that you are not only on top of this and that you care; 2) It also lets them know you are there to support them – very important.
Step 9 – Close the Loop:
What are you going to do to best ensure accountability? For example: Where have you recorded when this assignment is due? How long do you plan on waiting for its completion? Check-in the day before? Check in by close of business on date due? Or, wait until the following day? Which do you feel will best insure accountability? You need some sort of process or this particular request could drag on for who knows how long, maybe forever which means you’ll never receive it.
Step 10 – What To Do:
What happens if your request for the desired outcome is not achieved by this person on time? If it’s not, you may want to consider asking the following very simple question: “If you were in my shoes and this didn’t get done within the committed timeframe, what would you do?” What are the consequences, if any that will be implemented if the project is not completed?
As you practice these steps they will come to you automatically, effortlessly and naturally and you will see a noticeable difference in productivity.