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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Leaders – Seek out, Accept and Act on Feedback

By Jay Forte

Many of today’s leaders and managers still think they have all the answers, a way of thinking that remains from our industrial age. But in a world that constantly changes, it is important that all mangers and leaders be adaptive – that they be open to seeing things differently, be open to new ideas and realize being in charge doesn’t always mean they do things well.

Feedback, not constructive criticism, is critical for every manager and leader. The term “feedback” relates to commenting on both successful and unsuccessful performance. Providing supportive feedback can help any employee or manager do more of what’s working and address those things that are not working; it builds the employee-manager relationship. Avoiding or rejecting feedback creates strained manager-employee relationships, robs leaders and managers of the opportunity to see how their performance is affecting others and misses the opportunity for their development. All organizations should be able to provide meaningful feedback both up and down the chain of command.

In all of my mindfulness training with CEOs, I introduce a process to help them stop and notice what is effective and ineffective with their performance. If there are things about your management style, how you deal with challenging situations, your communication effectiveness or even your ability to share a clear and cohesive vision that are ineffective, you will benefit from the feedback. Solicit, accept and act on feedback. The goal is to constantly improve.

So, the question is, in your definition of manager or leader, are you open to feedback, not just applause?

If I were to ask your employees whether you are open to feedback, would they have the same response?

Here are three practical tips to seek out, accept and use feedback.

  1. Give your team permission to openly share their feedback. Go ask for feedback. Share how you best process their feedback so they can deliver it successfully. Let them know you are focused on constant improvement and that their input matters. This goes for both things done well and things that need improving.
  2. Accept, applaud and thank employees who deliver feedback successfully, wisely and professionally. This encourages them to continue to deliver the feedback. It also encourages a more successful manager-employee relationship as both parties have honest conversations that are results-based and committed to improvement.
  3. Act on feedback whenever possible. Participating in feedback and actually using the feedback are two different things. Employees will stop providing feedback if they feel it is ignored or not used. If the feedback is meaningful, work to implement it.

Take Action

Have a meeting with your team to discuss the value of feedback for all employees, including management, and how to do it successfully. Make a point of ensuring that feedback is for both successes as well as challenges to encourage better balance in your feedback. Acknowledge when it is done well to encourage its continual use. Its goal is to encourage behaviors to do more of what works and to improve what’s not working – at any level.

 

Consider reading Are Your Employees Sitting on the Sidelines?

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