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Being an effective manager Learning resource


Workplace communication

Providing work instructions

Work instructions should be clearly understood by the employee receiving the instructions. Consequently, the communication method should vary according to individual communication preferences. It can assist managers and supervisors working with supported employees to have a range of communication methods available to them. For example, when working with supported employees who have difficulty understanding spoken words, pictures, posters and highly visual aids can help make work instructions clear.

The key to providing work instructions revolves around ensuring there is shared understanding between the manager or supervisor providing the instruction, and the supported employee receiving the instruction. Giving and receiving feedback is critical, as is careful supervision to ensure understanding.

Case study: Is a picture worth a thousand words?

Lina sighed. Beth, a new team leader, was starting today and Lina was worried about how she would be able to communicate with her. Lina had been a team member at Framed Up for more than five years, loved her work and enjoyed the company of the people she worked with. Edward had been the team leader for as long as Lina had worked there and they had developed their own style of communicating. Lina was deaf and had difficulty speaking but she and Edward knew and understood each other so the work instructions Edward gave Lina were followed. As far as Lina was concerned a new team leader wouldn't be as good.

Beth was a bit concerned as well. She had years of experience as a team leader and was confident she knew the role but she hadn't worked in a Disability Business Service before. She was unsure of her ability to communicate well with people with disability. Alma, a friend who had worked at Framed Up for a long time, had a chat with Beth about how she might communicate with supported employees. She suggested that Beth treat each supported employee individually and use the methods of communication that they were comfortable with. She also suggested that Beth talk to Framed Up's training manager to get some hints.

In your workplace

1. What have you found to be successful when providing work instructions to supported employees?

2. Are there additional skills or information you would like to have to help you when working with people with disability? Who can you talk to about this?

Key learnings

Work instructions must be clearly understood by each individual being provided with the instructions. The most effective way to ensure this is to listen to people, watch their body language and use methods of communication that suit the individual as well as actively sending and receiving feedback.

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