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Do This One Thing To Get More From Your Staff

In an age where everyone’s heads are full of competing information, if you want to ensure you’re heard and everyone is on the same page, you can’t rely solely on verbal instructions. Business coach Mark Skelly explains

If you get frustrated by your staff’s reliability – maybe you’re falling prey to an old habit I was discussing with a coaching client last week.

Like many people, this client didn’t really like conflict. One way this was showing up was that he wouldn’t hold his staff accountable for jobs they’d been asked to do. He was constantly dealing with crises and re-work as a result of his team not doing what they’d agreed to.

His excuse for not holding them to account was that because he had so much going on in his head all the time - he couldn’t be certain of ‘exactly’ what/when he’d asked them to do, and if they challenged him on the details, he wouldn’t be able to stand his ground. Because of this he didn’t feel confident to raise the issue – and he’d leave it (and get quietly frustrated, and/or go do the job himself). What he (and you) need to do is: write it down.

There is real power in writing requests and instructions down. We all have far too much in our heads to remember everything we ask our team to do. Writing it down forces you to be specific with your requests. And it gives you a record to go back to when you follow up. You can either write the instruction to the staff member down on paper or in an email, and give this directly to your staff. Or, if you’ve asked for something to be done verbally, ensure that you write down clearly what you’ve asked to be done, for your own records.

That way, you can have certainty on what you asked, and when you asked it. To implement this, you can just grab a notebook to write in, use your paper diary (or step it up and use a free app like Trello). Whatever you use, it will remove the ‘excuse’ of uncertainty.

In addition, your team will take the instruction more seriously, because they will know you’ve written it down and you will be able to follow up (and it will positively change the culture of your team).

This is seductively simple – yet can make a significant improvement to your bottom line, and to reducing your personal workload.

For more ideas on working less, grab our free report at And, if you want to know more about how we’ve helped other businesses over the last 15 years – just ask around about us.

This article was written by Mark Skelly, a director of Red Hot Business Coaching and President of Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Keen to get in touch? Contact him via


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