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  • Writer's pictureTracy Warren

Giving Clear Instructions, Don’t Make This Mistake Twice

Edited: April 2023

Exit Interview Companies


Your project is going relatively smoothly, no unforeseen issues have arisen. At one point, your client requests a minor modification to the design, you explain it to your team, and all is well. The following week you check on the progress of the modification and you’re dismayed by what you find. How could your team be so far off the mark?

Could the real mistake have been in the way you communicated the modifications to your team? Did you give clear and understandable directions?

Incorporate these 6 essential communication practices into your interactions with your subs and your team when giving direction.

1) Know your audience.

Adapt your message to suit their frame of reference and technical skills.

2) Don’t assume they know what you mean.

Be mindful of:

  • Differences in meaning

  • Acronyms they might not know

  • Unspoken expectations

  • Resources with which they are unfamiliar

3) Be clear and specific.

Be intentional about giving plenty of detail in your directions and explanations.

4) Discuss and set time frames and deadlines.

5) Set guidelines in case alternatives might be necessary.

Discuss the parameters for possible alternative paths to meeting project goals.

6) Go for clarification.

Make it easy and comfortable for others to ask clarifying questions. When with your project team or subs, ask if they understand and consider having them explain back to you their understanding of the instructions.

Apply to each aspect of the project when instructions need to be given, not just at the project’s start.


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