When You Should Ask — Not Tell — Subordinates What to Do

Your instinct as a first-time manager is to tell people what to do. It’s not asking versus telling, it is telling versus asking.

After all, you’re in charge, and that’s what bosses do.

Or not.

Telling works great in fire drills, emergency rooms, and battlefield situations. In most other settings, asking is your go-to approach.

It’s easy to bark orders. Instead of wasting your valuable time explaining, you point and command. Telling is a go-to tactic for many managers.

It’s a lousy tactic.

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