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Giving clear instructions

Featured in the The Team Leader's Development Manual training manual

By Mike Fenwick

Category: People Management and Motivation

Credit price: 3 download credits (Single user)

A large part of the role of a team leader is telling other people what to do and how to do it. This is, however, far from easy. Not only do you need to consider what to say, but also the way to say it. Everyone has been in the position where they have given a simple instruction and been amazed to see it wildly misinterpreted. Often we put this down to the fact that they must be ‘thick’; rarely do we address the real reason, which is that we didn’t make the instruction clear. Additionally, we are all familiar with the person who never asks for anything but simply barks orders, or the person who never really seems to get around to saying exactly what they want. This training activity addresses the issue of giving clear instructions in the most appropriate way. Unclear instructions can result in lost time and money, mistakes, frustration and can, potentially, be dangerous.

You begin this training activity by introducing the idea that there are three types of instructions – orders, requests and indications. You then invite the participants to consider the characteristics of each of these types and to practice formulating instructions for a range of given situations. Next, you ask the participants to practise giving verbal instructions in an exercise entitled ‘Candle in the wind’. They give you instructions which you follow exactly. Their objective is to get you to light a candle with a match, but they have to assume that you have never done this before. (There is an alternative suggestion for this exercise; if you consider that lighting a candle might be dangerous, substituting the candle and matches for a bottle of cool drink and a glass.) In a final exercise, you divide the participants into three groups and ask them to prepare a set of written instructions for a given task. Once prepared, the instructions are passed over to another group for them to follow, to see if they can complete the task by following the instructions alone.

Who is it for: Assertiveness, Communication, Decision making, Developing others, Influencing others, Leadership, Teamwork, Time management.

Resource Type:Activity
Min Group Size:4
Max Group Size:20
Typical Duration:02:20:00
No of Pages:14

Resources: View standard resources for Fenman training activities
Additional resources: Various items for either Option 1 or Option 2.

Purpose: This training resource is intended for use by trainers as part of any assertiveness training, communication skills or management development programmes. It can also be used in programmes on decision making, developing others, influencing others, leadership, teamwork, and time management.

Download the training activity, Giving clear instructions as featured in the Fenman training manual; The Team Leader's Development Manual