Add Clarity, Tell Them Why

- Robin O'Mara

The Preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims some fundamental truths and rights, including human equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — these things are self-evident. Most everything else needs a little explaining.

As an example, when you have a new assignment for your employees, it’s important to tell them more than the basics of what they are to do; tell them why. Tell them why your customer wants, or needs, it that way. People are more responsive to a message when they understand why. Give them a reason for why, or how, the task will benefit them or benefit the customer.

It’s one thing to clearly give an assignment. It becomes an entirely different assignment when you tell them why. Adding “why” gives your request purpose and meaning. Your doctor can tell you to take your medication, but a good doctor will why tell you why you need to take it and how it will benefit.

One of our goals is to design seedsmanship into the equipment we manufacture. A seedsmanship feature that I consider important may be overlooked or unappreciated by a customer unless I take the time to explain. Explaining to our customers why we make or do things the way we do adds value to their perception of our products. Features that are obvious and important to me and our engineers as they design new equipment are not always self-evident to our customers. Furthermore, explaining why adds clarity to your instructions. This is why we take the time to explain and share with customers why we make our equipment the way we do.

The same idea applies when giving instructions to employees, especially new employees who are just learning. They may be confident that they have heard the words I spoke, but as I watch them I become equally confident they did not understand what I meant. Had I taken the time to explain why, they would have had a better understanding of my intentions. Explaining why adds an end goal to your instructions and gives employees an opportunity for initiative and innovation. Instead of merely working to finish an assignment, they will be working to accomplish a purpose that will presumably benefit customers.

Taking an extra moment to explain why goes a long way toward making your meaning more self-evident and more effective.

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