006 Don’t tell them how – tell them why

“What if you just explain your thoughts to your employee?”

So today the title of the episode is “Don’t tell them what to do.” “Them,” are your employees or direct subordinates. Let’s start with what I usually see. There is an employee who is doing something such as a presentation or important task. The manager has explained what needs to be done. The employee then delivers the presentation. Unfortunately, the manager becomes frustrated because he receives a page that explains the process he required. However, the format is not what the manager wanted.  The letters could be too small, or the template could be different than the usual company-approved design. The manager then explains to the employee specifically what needs to be done. The end result is that the manager assumes that they should have just done the presentation instead of delegating it!

“Don’t tell them what to do, tell them why!”

Most managers are very good at teaching employees about WHAT they need to be done. The secret is to tell the employs WHY something must be done. To continue the example of a presentation: tell the employee WHY the presentation must be designed a certain way. For instance, tell them the target audience, the amount of time available and what message you are trying to convey. This way, the employee comes up with a proposal for the presentation as well as any questions that he may have. Now the employee is growing and learning! The more room for creativity you leave, the more you are able to see your employees thrive. Challenge them and see them overcome and adapt. Your aim should be to hire professionals that are better in their fields than you are. Tell them what to achieve: what are the goals or visions of the assignment or project. This method of WHY and not WHAT tends to yield more results in the long-term and ensures that your team runs smoothly. Help your employees to create better and better results!

Stay in lead!



Good morning, good afternoon, good evening! Hello and all, come back to the Live It, Lead It podcast. It’s me again, Olaf Kapinski from the green field.
I walked the dog again and his name is Albert, as a little reference to Mr. Einstein. I still see that there is a little intelligence gap between Mr. Einstein and this furry person.
Whatever. If you have a dog, I think I will just put a picture of him in the show notes, which you can find on LiveItleadit.com so that you know what I’m talking about. So don’t tell them what to do is the title of the episode. “Them,” are your employees or direct subordinates?

Let’s start with what I see everywhere.
Here’s an employee who is doing something. It could be a presentation, task, or whatever. The manager is explaining how it needs to be done.
So let’s take a very easy example, which is a presentation. I asked my employee that I need this process in a presentation. And this person then delivers the presentation.
So here is this boss who gave this person a task.
And here is his employees who delivered it.
And the boss gets upset because he receives one page in PowerPoint where this to-be-explained processes is on.
There is not a letter that is bigger than 16 points. It’s quite small. It’s extremely precise, and everything is on everything.
And then this manager becomes upset and explains that the employees has to do this in three pages and the letters have to be bigger.
And,  the colors need to be the corporate standard colors.
Okay, so, the employee goes, wait, and does the same thing again.
You know how this ends.
It ends with the boss thinking  “Oh, my God, why do I  delegate? I could have done this by myself and it would have been much faster.”

So let’s take this as an example. We are very, very good and teaching our employees that if you have a presentation then don’t go below 18 pixels and you have to use the corporate temple and all of this. 

Don’t do this. Tell them what?

 I’m not the inventor of “why” This is Simon Sinek.
But I’m a big user off why. So if you are in this position that you have a presentation and you want to delegate this to an employee, of yours.
Maybe this is a new thought because you’ve given up and you’re doing all your presentations by yourself because you’re the only one in  the company and your employees are just delivering crappy presentations.
Then get short and tell them what they got to do. What they gotta do means “Okay, I need this presentation. This,that, and the other is on it.
The audience, this is set up that I’m expecting.” Set up means it’s a different if you need a presentation to be on a desktop or to be seen onstage.

I have that amount of time available.
“This is my audience. This is what this audience already know. This is what I want to transport.
Does that make sense employee?” And the employee  says, “Oh, yeah. In a way, I have this, that, and the other question.” Then he did the questions.
And then he comes up with a proposal for the presentation. This is my experience. He comes up next day with a lot of questions.
“I understand what I got to do. I’ve done this one. I’ve used the company template. Obviously, I have this and here is question one, two, three and four.”

This is how learning works. Now, the employee is growing.
Now this employee is learning how you take what’s important for you and what’s not. This employee delivers a presentation.
Finally! Then you have two things that you don’t like about the presentation.
Now you’re again not talking about what you want to have changed.
You talk about the “why” of the presentation.

So, an example: there is no starting slide on it. So the employee just started right into this. And you know this will be a presentation which you will be holding in front of the board, for example. And you want to make sure that the people of the board, your bosses and their bosses remember your name.
An absolute valid statement. And if you have the chance to go and present directly to the board, and the further they are away from you like in the food chain, the more you want to make sure that you deliver an awesome presentation and that they remember your name. 

Now you can go two things again. What everybody is doing is “Oh, employee! You messed it up.
It is evident that I need to have a starting slide with my name on it and that I need to have a finishing slide with my name on it as well.” 
What if you just explain your thought to your employees?

Don’t tell them what to do! Tell him why. “I have the chance to speak in front of the board.
And I want to make sure that they don’t miss my name.”
So maybe the employee comes up with, “Hey, boss, I’ve made you this start slide.
I was playing around with your name on it, but it looked a bit too catchy. So, I’ve made this a bit smaller, and I’ve made this in a way that it doesn’t stick out but it’s already visible.

Additionally, I changed the copyright section of our corporate designs to your name.
So whichever slide you have open, your name is visible on the bottom left side, and I’ve adjusted the color a little bit so they will see it.
I have your put on the last slide, which is the ‘Do you have any further questions?’ slide.
Is that cool with you?” Oh, yeah it is! This is about delegation. Don’t tell them what to do.
Tell them why. You are not hiring completely idiots, You have hired professionals!
If you work together with professionals, then don’t tell them what to do. By definition, your employees must be better in their profession than you are. Why?
Well, because if not, then you don’t need to hire them.
And if they’re better than you, why do you tell them what to do? So tell them why they got to do this. Tell them what to achieve. We’re talking about goals now, we’re talking about vision.
We’re talking about ideas! We’re talking about ‘what do you really want to achieve?” Leave the how they achieve it with them completely.
So that’s the a little inspiration episode from me. So if you like, write me olaf@liveitleadit.com. 

Let’s see if we are on track with this podcast, how this goes with you? Is this is the right set up, if you’re okay with me running around here and sharing inspiration with you. Or, on the other hand, if you say “No, I need a highly polished episode from the recording studio and it needs to be scripted.” I’m not sure if I will introduce all the changes that are asked, but let’s get into a discussion because I don’t do this podcast for myself. I do this podcast for you or to inspire you as a successful leader in IT in Europe.
I want to help you get better! I want to help you to create better and better results.
And I want us both to have fun. Okay, So have a good one. Olaf, bye!