5 tips to get people to do stuff

Thanksgiving is near. Time to say “Thank you”! When leading organizations, managers delegate duties, which naturally triggers a “Thanks”. However, it is important to know what we are saying thanks to.

I have had hundreds of thousands of professional interactions by email. I have watched many disasters in communication happen in the corporate world. Painful. So here are 5 ways to improve your email communications as a manager. These will prevent lots of headaches, awkward conversations, and misunderstandings, while making you an effective leader within your organization.

1. Specify who is responsible to get the job done.

With the increased use of email, there may be multiple people copied in an email thread. If you generate a message to request a task, you should make someone accountable for it by delivering the message specifically to that person (others can be in cc). Example:

“Hello all.

Lisa- please prepare a draft of the lease agreement…”.

2. Set a deadline.

If there is no clear message as to the deadline, you are probably not going to get the job done within your expected date because you haven’t asked for it. Also, it is harder for the person who is supposed to execute, because he or she does not know when you need the job done. If you forget to put a deadline, hopefully the employee asks you, but that is an unecessary waste of precious time. If you need it as soon as possible (ASAP), be specific because ASAP can mean different things to different people (believe me). You may give a short explanation as to why it is important that the task is performed within the time requested. I like to use bold and underline for deadlines, but that is up to you.

“Hello all.

Lisa- please prepare a draft of the lease agreement. We will discuss it with the client at the 4 p.m. meeting tomorrow so I need it 3 p.m. tomorrow at the latest… ”.

3. Be assertive.

Ask gracefully, but clearly. Provide details, but if you believe that it is more productive to have a quick conversation, go with your instinct and have a short meeting or call. However, make sure you put in writing the task being assigned, including bullets with high level points that should be taken into account. If you are dealing with documents in different languages, specify which language. Always say you are open to answer any questions.

Avoid terms that express doubt, opinion or desire such as “I don’t know but we should…”, “I think…”, “I would want…” and “We should…”. For example:

“I think we should prepare a draft of the agreement”.

4. Give feedback.

A leader is respectful and compassionate, which entails dedicating time to help others grow and eventually lead. Give thoughtful feedback on a timely and respectful manner.

5. Say thanks.

Always show your gratitude. It’s a great way to promote teamwork. It also makes people happy and feel that their work is appreciated.

For reasons out of the scope of this article, women seem to have a harder time asking for stuff to get done, and they get more backlash when they are assertive at work. Has this happened to you? What are some of the techniques you use to get your message across?

Happy Thanksgiving, and THANK YOU!