Over the last couple of months we have covered a lot of ground regarding why good communication matters at work, and how it can lead to a more efficient and productive team, and therefor improve your business.

Last month, we uncovered an issue that could lead to a poor performing workplace, and that was the situation where a task was given to the wrong person or given in the wrong way. Where a person receives a task but they feel they are being patronised, this can lead to resentment and obviously poorer performance.

Today, lets look at some ways in which a manager can improve the way they give a task to their team members. Everything we talk about in this post will also apply to how an individual team member communicates with their colleagues.

Situational Leadership Theory  was developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in the 1970’s, and states that there is no single “best” style of leadership. Instead, effective leadership is task-relevant and the most successful leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the situation at hand.

Hersey and Blanchard’s theory states that prior to handing out a task to someone, you should think about their level of competence and commitment (or motivation) and choose a style based on your assessment of the situation.
With four styles to choose from, the Situational Leadership Theory is not about putting people in a box, but is about analysing each and every situation (quickly) and adapting your style to suit. The four styles are Direction, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating.
If the person you are giving a task to has:
1. Low Competency and Low Commitment – a directing style may be best
2. Low/medium Competency and High Commitment – a coaching style may be best
3. High Competency and Low Commitment – a supporting style may be best
4. High Competency and High Commitment – a delegation style may be best
Remember, this is about understanding each situation, so an individual may be highly competent in general, but may be low in competence for a particular task, which means it is important to analyse each situation, and not make a one-off assessment of each individual.
So next time you have a task to hand out, think about your team members level of competency and commitment, then choose a style, and give it a go. Be prepared to get it wrong!…but try and try again and your team will thank you for it with higher levels of productivity!
Next post, we will explore this in a bit more depth to try and understand how all of this might work in practice.