The most sought-after management skill today is the ability to train others, including your peers and direct reports. Training is such a difficult skill because it takes time and effort to be truly successful.
The Ringmaster realized a long time ago that even if he or she had excellent time management skills, his or her coworkers and direct reports would still make life difficult with their poor time management skills. Here are four suggestions:
Problem solving and questions: When direct reports or peers come to you with a problem or question, you should realize it is a training opportunity in disguise. (If you answer their questions or solve their problems quickly, they will be back again, usually asking roughly the same questions.) Ask them to:
- Clearly identify their problem or question
- Explain what they have already tried
- Tell you what they think the answer is.
Offer to show them how to do it so they really learn something from your answer. People like to learn new things, but it takes time (i.e., training) to save time.
Train others to use the phone and voice mail: The Ringmaster changes his or her voice mail greeting daily or weekly and asks callers to leave their name, number, reason for the call, and the best time to call them back. He or she explains that if they do that, he or she will call them back more quickly with the help or information the requestor needs and leave it on their voice mail. This strategy will also cut down on “phone tag.”
You must lead by example. When you leave messages for others, you must leave the same type of information as you ask from them. If you don’t do what you’re asking others to do for you, why should they? Train your direct reports to change their voice mail regularly and tell them how to leave a voice mail you can quickly respond to.
Train others to write you better e-mails: Ask others to put the reason they’re sending an e-mail to you in the subject line and what they want and when they specifically need it in the first three lines of the message. Explain if they did that you could respond faster to their e-mail messages. Make sure to show your direct reports on how to write you e-mails that you will respond to (by being brief and to the point).
You need to write your e-mails this way for others first and be an example. In addition, use bullets and numbers instead of long paragraphs and ask them to do the same. It will “invite” your readers to read your messages faster.
Train others in how to communicate better: E-mail is for information, whereas phone calls and meetings
are for discussion. When you see e-mails from your direct reports going back and forth, ask them to stop and schedule time to talk. Have you been to a meeting and didn’t say anything? Maybe you should have suggested that they send you the minutes via e-mail.
“The most sought-after management skill today is the ability to train others. The Ringmaster is a great trainer because he or she leads by example.”