5 Ways to Overcome Frustration With Your Direct Reports

direct report

Are you frustrated by the people who work underneath you? It just might be your fault. You may be making common managerial mistakes that are creating tension with your direct reports. The good news is that it is much easier to fix you than it is to fix someone else.  Here are five leadership mistakes that cause frustration and simple solutions to grow as a leader:

1. You Fail to Clearly Communicate What You Want Them to Do.

Have you ever had a direct report fail to complete an assigned task? It is likely that you did not communicate as clearly as you thought. Most people believe that they have communicated more clearly than they truly have. You can fix this problem by making expectations clear BOTH verbally AND in writing. If you send an email, follow up with verbal communication. If you assign a task verbally, send a follow-up email re-communicating the assigned project. Make sure to communicate your expectations. Improving your communication will reduce frustration.

2. You Don’t Communicate Deadlines Clearly.

When your direct report fails to complete a project on time, consider whether or not you clearly articulated the due date. In assigning a project or task, make it clear exactly WHEN you expect completion. If you do not communicate a clear deadline, you can’t hold a person accountable to your expected timetable. The WHEN is just as important as the WHAT.

3. You Assign Multiple Tasks, but Don’t Prioritize Them.

When assigning several tasks at once you must prioritize your expectation for completion. Your assistant can’t read your mind concerning what is most important. Instead of giving a laundry list of tasks and leaving the priority open to interpretation, clarify what is most important. Communicate what the most important priorities are.

4. You Suggest Rather than Expect.

Early in my leadership career, I often suggested to my direct reports what they SHOULD do when in reality these were things that I EXPECTED them to do. Simply suggesting a course of action gives your direct report a choice. But expecting a course of action communicates requirement of completion. If you expect something to get done, communicate this clearly. Rather than “you could do this,” communicate “I need you to do this.”

5. Your Management Style is too Hands Off.

I see more leaders who manage too little than those who manage too much. Everyone seems to be afraid of micromanaging so much that they don’t invest time in those they oversee.

In my post, entitled Why you are struggling to build a team around you, I explain that hands-off management is a formula for leadership loneliness.  If you want a top tier team around you, then you will have to invest consistent and regular time with those that you oversee.

Are you frustrated by the people who work underneath you? You can change all of that with a greater commitment to communication and development.


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