TODAY IS THE MOST ASSERTIVE DAY OF THE YEAR: MARCH 4th (MARCH FORTH!!). THUS, LET US TALK ABOUT HOW TO WRITE A DIRECTIVE THAT DIRECTS.
If you supervise people, you want to be ASSERTIVE when appropriate, without being aggressive. An assertive person simply knows what is important, and expresses it clearly. When you give an employee a directive, be sure that it directs. One thing that lawyers who represent teachers clearly understand is that the principal has the authority to issue directives, and that directives must be complied with. I’ve seen testimony like this at nonrenewal hearings:
TEACHER’S LAWYER: Now I understand that Mrs. Smith, a parent of one of your students, complained about you to the principal, and that you and the principal discussed the matter. Is that right?
TEACHER: Yes, that’s right.
LAWYER: What did the principal tell you to do about it?
TEACHER: Nothing specific. We just talked about it, and she gave me her thoughts about what I might do.
LAWYER: Did the principal direct you to apologize to the parent?
LAWYER: Did the principal give you any directives as a result of this conversation?
TEACHER: No. No directives, just some ideas of how it might be handled.
LAWYER: Has your principal ever given you a directive?
LAWYER: Did you comply with her directives?
TEACHER: Of course! Every time!!
LAWYER: But on this occasion, you received no directive.
TEACHER: That’s correct.
LAWYER: If your principal had directed you to apologize to Mrs. Smith, would you have done so?
TEACHER: Absolutely! I always comply with my supervisor’s directives.
You see the point that the lawyer is making: the teacher is not guilty of “failing to comply with directives” because no directive was given.
When you write a directive, make sure that it is clear and unambiguous. This is not the time to make nice suggestions and hope that the employee reads between the lines. Directives must be in the lines—not between them.
DAWG BONE: MAKE YOUR DIRECTIVES CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS—NOT BETWEEN THE LINES, BUT RIGHT THERE IN THE LINES THEMSELVES!