Within every under-performing team, and individual I have worked with, there is usually one common thread. Clarity. Or lack there-of. This can present in many different forms, such as strategy, objectives, behaviours, ownership, or expectations of the people you manage. It’s absence is ubiquitous. At it’s simplest it is a communication issue and its effects spread far wider than this. A lack of clarity breathes confusion, frustration, dis-trust, anger and laziness. If you allow the fog to sit, people will inevitably hide in it. These very same people will be like Teflon because it easy for them to shirk ownership of everything. The perfect refuge for the arse scratchers in your organisation.
Over the past 6 months we have been given a live case study on communication, as politicians, scientists, journalists, and leaders of all descriptions try and wrestle with Covid 19. Not an easy task I hasten to add. Some are doing it well, but others are failing miserably in their communications during these un-certain times. You will regularly hear dejected and frustrated individuals in the media speak of,
“We just need more clarity as to where this leaves us”
“This announcement is really unclear and we don’t know what to do next”
I could go on, but tune in and you will hear many versions of the same message, which is “What the fuc* does that mean?” Even when things are un-certain and the right course to chart is not obvious, you must work even harder to ensure your audience fully understands the key tenets of your message. Covid has really highlighted this, but it has been a real issue in leadership for quite some time. When people are not given clear and concise messages a few things are likely to happen. They nod and pretend they know what the message was and they go off in the complete opposite direction. They become frustrated and down tools, or they completely ignore you. All of which lead to reduced levels of engagement and performance.
If you don’t have clarity, then you need to go back to source and seek it. If you are the source of information, then you need to sit with your people and generate it before you disseminate your message. This time spent in preparation is crucial. If you don’t, then you are part of the problem. It may involve some difficult conversations. These will come anyway, so you are only delaying the inevitable and without the stress of un-necessary train crashes. For people to be effective in their roles they need to fully understand what is expected of them. They need to know how their objectives will be measured and how accountability is done. If you give people this along with the proper resources, most will thrive. Clarity for me is one of the key cogs for success in any team or life endeavour.
The quality of your conversations will directly determine the quality of your results. This is a continuous and on-going process. One conversation at a time. These can be one to one, or one to many. After each conversation the sediment will rest in the bottom of the glass for a few weeks, but inevitably something will happen that causes the waters to muddy again. Covid being a prime case in point. This triggers a need for further conversations and fresh decisions. Ignoring, postponing or avoiding these causes so much havoc. Yet is surprisingly common. Space and time are two of the most common requirements necessary for tackling this. You need to make time to pull yourself up above the fog and plan accordingly. This is never wasted and can prevent so many headaches and sleepless nights. Susan Scott hits this on the head in her book Fierce Conversations when she says,
“Your confusion is an asset; in fact, your search for clarity may blaze a path for others”
If you are finding it difficult, or confusing, then reach out and myself and Brian at Performance Nerds will be only too happy to assist you in your pursuit. We relish this!