A few weeks ago I was with an Executive working on strategic alignment for the coming year. As we were discussing the need to effectively communicate the vision and strategy to their teams, all the various obstacles and challenges came up that could make executing the plan a challenge. One of the more vocal Executives finally stated quite clearly and succinctly that “By far” the biggest obstacle for his team was going to be himself. So I asked him “How does he plan to get himself out of the way”
This led to the best discussion of the afternoon as each member of the Executive team was now able to be open and honest about the their own communication behaviors and how they impacted both the Leadership team as well as their own teams.
Let’s think about how we get ourselves in the way for a minute.
Ego– How many times have you refused to let go of an idea, thought process, or a way of doing things simply because it was yours. Let me ask you, is it more important for you to get your way, or is it more important that the business gets a good outcome? Can you let go of your way, and allow a completely different way of doing things to prevail if the end result is the same? Do you have a need to win or be right in most situations? If so how is that working for you, and more importantly how is it working for your team?
Look, there is a reason you have elevated yourself to the role you currently have in the organization… you are good at what you do. At some point however it’s not about you being good, or knowing the answers but rather it becomes about empowering a team to come to those conclusions on their own. Your job is to set the vision, support your team with the tools, training and environment to achieve the end goal, and finally empower them to work toward the goals, take some risks and potentially make a few mistakes along the way. During this process you get to coach and mentor your team and ultimately be the safety net that doesn’t allow for any serious injuries to the business in the long term.
If you can’t get your Ego out of the way, then you are destined to get yourself in the way of creating, maintaining and sustaining a high performing team.
Setting Clear Expectations- If you want your team to perform at a high level, then set a clear expectation as to what a high level actually looks likes.
If you’ve ever had the good fortune to actually hire someone, than you probably remember the look of pride and accomplishment that was on their face when they accepted. Just like getting picked first on the playground to play kickball, being selected over others never seems to get old. Here is the one thing that I can almost guarantee wasn’t on your new hire’s mind when you hired them “Man I can’t wait to come here and work for you and NOT meet your expectations!”
If you have a team member that’s not performing to the level you would like, start by asking yourself how effectively you’ve communicated your expectations? Have you shared it with them in a language that they understand? And most importantly have you walked the talk yourself and lived up to your own expectations. In the absence of clear expectations your new hires and everyone else will simply go with the flow, or make it up as they go along.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate- Studies tell us that the average team member has to hear the same message 5-7 times before they actually believe it. In my experience that’s about 4-6 times more than most leaders are willing to convey the message.
There’s an old joke about the couple that’s with the Marriage counselor and the wife complains that her husband never tell her that he loves her to which he responds, “We got married 7 years ago, if anything changes I’ll let you know!”
Over-communicating is by far something I’ve found that most Leaders despise, mostly for the reason that if you were to ask them what they feel they do all day long they would probably respond “Communicate!”
Yet in employee survey after employee survey, the number one complaint is that no one communicates with them. Perception is reality and if you feel you are effectively communicating with your team you are probably 50% of the way there.
Communication is a living a breathing organism, so if you are of a mind to “Set it and forget it” then you are probably missing the mark and most certainly getting in the way when it comes to effective communication.
Remember not all communication needs to revolve around a specific problem or task. Some of the best meetings and interactions with teams have no specific agenda or no client attached to them. Much like a conversation with a friend they just go where they are going to go and as many can attest these interactions can be the difference between highly productive engaged team, and a team that’s constantly chasing it’s tail.
This week ask yourself the following questions:
How am I getting in the way of building a high performing team?
What steps will I take to remove myself as the roadblock to success?
When are the times that I’ve allowed my own goal to replace the goal of the team or the organization?
If I were to ask my team about the expectations would I get the same answer from everyone? If not, why not?
How do I communicate with my team? What is working? Where do I need to make some Quarter Turns to remove myself as the obstacle?
Thoughts for the week:
The effectiveness of communication is not defined by the communication, but by the response. –Milton Erickson
People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.- John Maxwell
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. – Peter Drucker
Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know. –Jim Rohn
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. –Nelson Mandela
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that is has taken place. –George Bernard Shaw
The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply. –Unknown
Looking forward to our next connection