As business owners and/or leaders we often give a direction or set a task only to find the outcome being different to what we intended. It is quite easy to blame the person we gave the direction to or rant and rave because ‘they just don’t get it’ or ‘they’re useless’ but in reality we need to reflect on our communication; what we could do better. Yes it can be hard to concede that you may be wrong; that some of the result is your fault. Move on as better outcomes are the real goal.
It has taken a while but after nearly 18 years in advisory working with a large team and many business owners, I have come to realise that more often than not it is the leader’s communication that is the issue above anything else.
Sure, there will always be issues with people, skill sets, quality and deliverables but generally it comes down to the quality of communication and ensuring all parties understand what is being asked and expected. I think if you can get this part right then the battle is almost won.
After many years I have narrowed it down to three essential steps. These steps are in order and if you can’t get through one step then don’t move to the next as you will end up in the same place with an outcome you were not intending.
Step 1: Expectations
Make sure you are very clear with what you expect. What is the budget? What does the deliverable look like? When is the due date? Who is to be involved? The more pointed you can be here the better. It will be easier to understand and less chance of misinterpretation or assumption. Get specific.
Step 2: Understanding and Agreement
When you have given a task and set your expectation you need to ensure the other person understands you. And a simple yes or nod of the head does not mean they understand you or what they have to do. A simple tip is to have them explain back to you what you want them to do. Doesn’t have to take long.
Along with understanding you need to ensure the agree and accept. If they don’t agree that the task or direction can be achieved you are not going to have the outcome you are after. They may have legitimate reasoning as to why they don’t agree and this may require your listening skills and reassessment. For example you ask for a particular task to be completed in 4 hours but the other person truly thinks it will take 8 hours then without further discussion you are never going to get the task done in 4 hours.
Step 3: Accountability and Consequences
Once you have followed steps one and two you can hold accountability. You can only have accountability though if you have consequences; positive and negative or carrot and stick. This is a great step for feedback and reflection as well. Where could things have been improved? What went well? What didn’t? Without steps one and two though you should never expect to hold accountability of anyone. So many business owners, leaders and managers don’t get this. Seagulls!
If you want better outcomes and results in your business follow these simple three steps when communicating with your people. It doesn’t take long to do and to get better outcomes.