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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Do You Know Your Employee’s Engagement Language?

By Jay Forte

In 1992, Gary Chapman wrote The 5 Love Languages, a book that illustrated how everyone primarily feels loved in one of five ways. Knowing our love language, and the love language of the important people in our lives, helps us better understand how to share what we need and how to better understand what others need from us. This awareness has changed countless relationships.

Since we spend so much time with the people we work with, it made me think about the relationships between manager and employee, one of the most critical performance relationships in any organization. Despite the importance placed on the ability for managers and employees to connect, the Gallup Organization’s State of the American Workforce report showed that nearly 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace.

Perhaps even more disheartening is that disengagement levels are so high because of ineffective relationships between managers and employees, something that is seemingly so easy to fix. According to the Gallup, one in two employees who leave an organization leave because of their manager.

Perhaps the primary item missing from these manager-employee relationships is language. It’s not just about communicating; it’s about communicating effectively.

What if we could identify the engagement language that an employee needs so a manager can get it right more often? Knowing that we are all different and unique, why would we think a one-size-fits-all approach to connection, engagement and to making employees feel valuable would be effective?

I think there should be four types of employee engagement languages:

  1. Words of appreciation – some employees look for a compliment or supportive applause; it activates their inner higher performer. When an employee who thrives on being noticed for his or her hard work and contribution receives words of appreciation, it creates a great sense of personal value.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?
  2. Personal time – some employees like and need the one-on-one time with a manager. They feel valuable and important when their manager intentionally makes time to teach, guide or support in a personal way. Though all employees should have access to their manager in an intentional way, some employees are more actively engaged by personalized attention and time.
    • THINK: Who on your time needs this?
  3. Awards and gifts – some employees are more competitive than others and find trophies, awards or gifts more engaging. These can become tangible representations of effort, validation and applause that encourage and drive engagement.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?
  4. Development opportunities – some employees crave doing more, like having more responsibilities or having a larger influence. Selecting them for new and challenging activities, tasks and responsibilities activates and engages them.
    • THINK: Who on your team needs this?

Our greatest impact, influence and connection with our employees can only happen when we take the time to really know them. But how can we do this if we don’t take the time to know our own abilities and liabilities? Gaining clarity about our own attributes can help us more easily tune in to others. And doing this can help us learn their engagement language to better activate their engagement and inspire greater effort.

Important Questions from a Coach

1. What is your employee engagement language?
2. What is one thing you can start doing today to become more in tune with your employees’ engagement language?
3. How can you effectively touch each type of engagement language for your employee(s) or team?

 

Parts of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn, March 3, 2017.

Consider reading How to Succeed in Changing Times

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Committing to More Effective Communication

By Kristin Allaben, Strategic Communications Specialist & Executive Assistant

There are always lists readily available about words you should remove from your vocabulary, or words you should never say to your boss. I recently read one of these lists on Business Insider that offered one interesting takeaway: “Don’t say I can’t, say I don’t.”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard that piece of advice, but it is the first time I’ve heard it shared in a way that I can personally relate to: dessert. The writer explained that saying “I don’t eat brownies” has a much stronger impact on your self-control than saying “I can’t eat brownies.” You control the first one; you are at the effect of the second one. Choose language that empowers you.

The writer taking the time to effectively communicate why one phrase is better than another made me commit to replacing “I can’t” with “I don’t” in my vocabulary.

Bravo.

This points to a broader theme here: it’s not about the words you should or shouldn’t use, it’s about how you use them.

We toss words around with very little thought about what message they convey. Is what you’re saying meaningful for the person you’re speaking with? Is your message delivered in a way that appropriately reflects your tone, mood and intent? Most of the time, words spill out without enough intention, creating confusion or misinterpretation.

And language choice when speaking to yourself is just as impactful as the language you choose to use when speaking with a friend, family member or colleague. All too often, we can be careless and reckless with our self-talk, negatively affecting our sense of self, our confidence and belief in oneself.

Words are important. Choose them wisely. Use them with intention.

In 2018, how will you communicate more effectively? How will you stop and notice you, others and your situations and choose how and what you say more intentionally? Imagine the impact it could have in all of your relationships.

 

Consider reading Setting the Course for A Successful 2018

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