“What is a way to motivate people to ask questions if they need clarity about a task or assignment?”
The 4th Law of Combat, Decentralized Command, is fundamental to having an agile and flexible organization. For Decentralized Command to be effective, everyone on the team must understand the “why” behind their individual part of the mission.
At Echelon Front, we push leaders to take the extra time to explain the “why” so that members of their teams can make independent decisions that support the overall mission. However, just because you explain the “why” of the mission, it doesn’t mean each team member will understand how their role fits in. Too often, team members are hesitant to ask questions about the “why” out of fear – fear of looking stupid in front of the boss, fear of questioning the boss’ plan, etc… But if your team doesn’t fully understand the mission, they can’t execute.
When beginning to implement decentralized command, it’s up to you, as the leader, to foster a company culture that not only accepts but celebrates these types of questions. When one of your team members asks a clarifying question, answering with “I appreciate you asking me to clarify your mission, it’s the only way you can take true ownership of it…” is a straightforward way to celebrate the behavior change you’re implementing. On the other hand, if you belittle someone for asking a question, even if it seems very basic to you, you almost guarantee that no one will ask questions in the future.
No questions doesn’t mean that everyone understands. By celebrating the first individuals who step up to get clarity, more will follow.