Are You Being Heard?
“I’ve said this five times!” We often get frustrated with our organizations for “not getting it”. How many times do we have to say the same thing to the same people to get the idea across?
One of the biggest mistakes we make is to let our communication within our organization continue to be a one-way flow — from us to them. Every person interprets information differently and has a different emotional context based on their own life experiences. Without an opportunity to ask questions and to understand, employees and co-workers can become frustrated, angry or excited. These are the emotions that become roadblocks to an organization’s productivity during times of extreme change. In a stressful or changing work environment a person’s ability to process information decreases as their need to process their emotions increases. I call this overwhelmed state of mind, “the brain on change.” The trick is to acknowledge this reality and to alter the way that you communicate.
1. “Listen no matter what”.
It may seem funny that the first step to getting people to listen to you is to listen to them! Build both one-way and two-way communication vehicles to help people build their trust and understanding. You need to invest some weekly planned time to build connections and constituencies in the company.
Should you use a “strategic leak” approach?
Last Thursday, I was honored to lead the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA) Breakfast discussion regarding how to move an organization forward after a Reduction In Force (RIF). The audience was full of experienced HR professionals who openly shared their practices. One of the most interesting topics was that of pre-RIF communication strategy. Specifically, we discussed the strategy of the “strategic leak” about the RIF before a formal announcement was made. That is, actually planning the informal message (usually through conversation) that change is coming and that most likely, there would be a layoff. From an organizational development perspective, the organization is leveraging the informal communication or “water cooler talk/rumor mill” to facilitate the organization’s change agenda.
The idea is that by having leadership purposefully “leak” the information, it will give people a “heads up” and reduce the amount of potential emotional shock felt when the formal announcement is made. Participants had mixed thoughts on this because some folks had successfully experienced the implementation of this strategy and others thought that the concept was not honest or truthful.
My thoughts about today’s entry - Leading Cross-Functional Teams - brought me back to my days at Babson College. Two things came to mind: group work and the case method of teaching. Now this isn’t an advertisement for Babson but the MBA program there is excellent.
Group work is a big component of the program. At least twice a semester I was thrown together with 5-6 other students to design, develop and deliver a major presentation or paper for a class. Each group had a mix of genders, nationalities (35% of the class was international) and backgrounds. Additionally, because all of us were students, there was no designated “boss” or leader. We were all equally responsible for the outcome. This created quite a bit of tension because the entire group received the same grade regardless of each members contributions.
Does this kind of situation sound familiar? I would bet it does and I know from experience both at Babson and with my clients that it isn’t easy. The amount of effort expended to keep the team working can actually exceed the effort put into delivering the work! I have found that simply the recognition that a team like this requires work in and of itself helps my clients work more effectively.
I’m a consultant that relies on word of mouth and referrals to drive my business. As a result, I think about my “brand” and how others perceive me on a regular basis. The first step to building your personal brand is to do great work. If I deliver results to my clients on time and on budget then chances are they will be interested in working with me again.
However, doing great work is the chip that gets you in the game. Building and developing your own brand means more. It means becoming “Mission Critical” to your organization or your clients. Think of it this way. Are you the insurance policy that smart leaders put into place when failure is not an option? Does your job define you or do your personality, your capabilities and your knowledge set you apart?
Six-Word memoirs, stories, mottos and novels(!) are all the rage right now. I came across the Best Six-Word Speeches list that follows on the SpeakerNet News site. SpeakerNet News subscribers are some of the most talented and busiest public speakers out there. I thought I’d share it with you because who better to write the best six-word speeches than the most talented speakers!
Note: I’ve selected my favorites. Which are yours??