Be Clear if You Want Employees to Perform

You know what you want to happen in the workplace and with your employees. But how do you ensure that your employees have the same understanding and are able to deliver in the way you are expecting? Clear communication.

The goal of communication is to be understood. Remember that all communication has a sender and a receiver. The sender encodes a message and the receiver decodes that message. Because everyone is different, what is the likelihood that the receiver will decode the message in the exact way the sender sent it and meant it? Not likely. Add to that the increasing use of digital messages in the workplace – emails, texts, IMs – in lieu of face-to-face interaction and the intended message can easily be misconstrued simply as a result of the receiver’s own interpretation of tone.

All of this can be avoided, however, if the sender takes great care to ensure that the message is fully understood by both parties. This may require clearly defining terms the organization uses without any real intention.

For example, consider the word that shows in many performance reviews – “better” – “do better.” Improvement is important, but it is more valuable when the word “better” is defined. It could mean improve your sales by 5% or your collections by 10%. It could mean arriving on time for work every day or completing all projects by their due date. Without a metric or greater clarity, the employee may think they are doing what is expected, but the manager may not see the required improvement.

Another example: consider the word “excellence.” Doing things well is indeed important, but it is more likely to happen when it is clearly defined. It could mean provide exactly what the customer wants or it could mean provide what the customer wants, AND do something more to activate their loyalty. It could mean build supportive and collaborative relationships with your colleagues, or it could mean focus on your job and get it done well and on time. To strive for excellence is a great goal to have, as long as everyone knows what it means and how it looks when it is done.

This approach applies at home, as well. Consider the term “clean room.” How you define it and how your kids define it may be two very different things so, when asked if their room is clean, in their mind, it may be. But it does not meet your expectation based on your interpretation of a clean room. A battle ensues.

In each of these examples, clear communication is important. And beyond that, clarity matters.

Take Action
Choose your words wisely and carefully. Take ownership of ensuring that your words or the concepts supported by the words, are understood by others. They may show in words like productivity, performance, service, engagement, development, results, teamwork, entrepreneurial, collaboration or even success. Define them in a way that everyone understands. From there, you can rally the teams to achieve your goals.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 3 Ways to Help Your Employees Become More Mindful

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