Sharing a Message/Instructions Effectively

     Messages – E-mails, faxes, memos, letters – bombard people relentlessly from every direction so the ability to write clearly and persuasively is more valuable than ever before. Whether your purpose is to provide information, to change an attitude or behavior, or to persuade someone to perform a specific task, written communication is a substitute for your presence. But at other times, writing is the method of choice – even more effective than spoken words. When do you “put it in writing”?

♦ To save time. Writing reduces the need for time consuming meetings. Writing saves time by telling team members ahead of time what will be done at a meeting and what each individual’s responsibilities are for the meeting.
♦ To remind. Written plans of action serve as a reminder of what needs to be done, who is responsible, and when the action should be completed. A written plan facilitates accountability and creates a benchmark for measurement of performance.
♦ To prevent misunderstanding. Putting important information in writing prevents misunderstandings. People can reread directions, instructions, or important information when it’s at their fingertips in writing. Planning before sending an E-mail, dictating, or writing ensures the best possible reception for your message. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is my purpose for sending this message?
  2. What response or action do I want as a result of this message?
  3. What do I know about the recipient of this message that will help me present it in a form that’s most likely to be positively received?

      As you write or dictate, try to visualize the person or group with whom you wish to communicate. Assume an appropriate tone in the writing and choose language that communicates just as you would if you were in a face-to-face meeting.

     Choose an appropriate form for each written message. In most business situations, E-mail is the logical choice. It is quick, readable, and easily copied. For some special purposes, a handwritten note may serve your purpose just as well.

     Skill in writing E-mails, letters, and memos is invaluable since they’re so widely used in business organizations. They may deal with simple announcements or with complex or highly confidential matters involving personnel, new product research, financial affairs, or company policy. Make letters, memos, and E-mails long enough to cover the message but short enough to be read and the message heeded. Make E-mails brief and to the point, and limit letters and memos to one page as often as possible. Cover only one subject; it’s better to send two separate E-mails, letters, or memos to the same person than to mix two different subjects.

Giving Instructions

      The more expert you become in giving instructions, the more everyone benefits. Team members understand exactly what you want and comply conscientiously and cheerfully. Here are suggestions:

  •  Preparation – Be sure you know exactly what you want to communicate. If you need to ask for information or conduct a discussion or brainstorming session before reaching a decision about what orders to give, separate that session from the actual giving of instructions or orders. Any apparent indecision or confusion on your part creates doubt and lack of confidence.
  • Consideration – Check on the team member’s time and workload before directing any change in procedure or priority. Be sure you have the right employee for the job. Along with instructions, assign a priority to the job.
  • Presentation – Give instructions in a logical sequence and in clear, concise language geared to the team member’s intelligence and education. Check to see that your instructions were understood, and explain again any part that seems unclear. If the order has several parts, or if it’s to be a permanent procedure, follow oral instructions with a written message.
  • Attitudes – “Ask” rather than “tell,” but make it clear you expect compliance with your request. Be considerate of team member needs and desires, but never apologize for giving an order. You represent the organization, so make it clear that you support the organization and its goals. Give individuals an opportunity to ask questions or express opinions, but do not feel bound by those opinions.
  • Follow-up – Check on compliance with your requests and instructions. Amend your instructions when that seems logical. Express appreciation when your requests and instructions are carried out well.