Years ago, a former direct report of mine… observed that oftentimes what I thought was a take-it-or-leave-it remark would create a massively disruptive fire drill. Up until that moment, I had no idea my opinion was being weighted so heavily.
To address the issue and to ensure that the team and I were on the same page with regard to situations like that, we developed three categories to describe any feedback I provided (either in conversation or via email): One person’s opinion (OPO), strong suggestion, mandate.
The system proved to be so helpful, I’ve used it ever since. It has helped me communicate more effectively across all levels of the organization, especially with newer employees who may not be calibrated to my feedback style or frequency.
(1) Sometimes a manager identifies a problem that needs to be solved, without suggesting a solution or expressing an opinion. Being explicit can also help in that case: Is solving this problem important, urgent or both?
(2) Thank you Michael Eisenberg for the tip.