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10/03/2013

Do Your Leaders and Managers Think They Are Communicating With Clarity? Have Them Try This

IStock_000010677531X_WebAccording to a study by The Conference Board, almost two-thirds of all employees are 33% as productive as they could be because they don’t understand what they are being asked to do.  According to author and consultant William Schiemann (see his book Performance Management: Putting Research into Action), only 14% of employees have a good understanding of their company's strategy and direction.

I have seen several similar studies and experienced this first-hand.  For example, I have articulated a number that represents a target goal (i.e. 5 new clients), only to have ambiguity the very next day from my team.  Whose fault is that?  Mine.  I have to be accountable for my communication.  In that case, I threw out several numbers, muddying my message.

You can bet the statistics aren't much better for individual teams and groups.  That means there are a lot of leaders and managers in your organization who think they are communicating with clarity but are not.  If the statistics hold, you and I are probably both one of them.

Here's an exercise you can give them to test the level of actual clarity and alignment:

After a meeting discussion, give everyone a sheet of paper, and ask them to take 2 minutes to write down what was agreed upon (or what the strategy is, or whatever it is you have been communicating).  Ask them to read their responses.  Remember this isn't to evaluate them, it's to evaluate you.  How can you communicate with more clarity?  Is everyone properly aligned?  Or are is there a disconnect?  This gives you the opportunity to discover the perception in the room of what is happening, and it provides a discussion point.  Many times people will not share what they are thinking and you assume you have clarity and alignment when you do not.  They go off and don't do the things you want them to do, and you wonder why not.

Never assume that you are communicating with clarity.  Constantly evaluate, check alignment, and practice improving the clarity in your communications.


 
 


 

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