WARNING: You have an enemy lurking in your company. It sits in on your team meetings, and it even follows your team members home! Sometimes it is almost invisible, and other times it roars to life in the middle of your office. Poor Communication is sabotaging your team!
So how do you know if the Poor Communication Monster is active in your team? Let's check out five sure-fire signs that it is on the prowl within your people...
This week, let's look at the first sign: Missed Expectations
Sometimes people are bad at their jobs. That's a real thing. However, more often than not, your people just don't fully understand what is expected of them. Now, I'm not saying you haven't explained it. You probably have, and in fact, you probably have multiple times.
But communication is a two-way street. While you may have initiated communication on your end, it's not real communication until it has been received and understood. What you need is a "communication feedback loop." Communication feedback is exactly what it sounds like: you need to hear something back from the person you're attempting to communicate with to confirm that they have understood what you want or need.
To make sure expectations are not missed, here are three times when feedback from your team is absolutely critical:
When a new person joins the team
When a new policy or procedure has been implemented
When a new goal is put in place or an old one has been changed
A New Person
When onboarding a new team member, try having them explain back to you, or to another team member, what their responsibilities and expectations are. Using some of the following questions can help:
What does a win look like for your role?
What is the most important part of your job?
Show me how you will use (tool, software, resource, etc) to meet your expectations.
What things are you not responsible for in your role?
A New Policy or Procedure
When a policy changes or a new procedure is put in place, it can be good to gather the team. Start by explaining, step by step, the new way things will be done. Then give time for questions to be asked. Get everyone on the same page. Here are a few questions you can ask them to make sure everyone understands (correct as needed):
What is the difference between the old policy/procedure and the new one?
Why are we making this change?
What obstacles do you see to implementing this new policy/procedure and how can we overcome those?
A New Goal
When a new goal is put in place, it can feel like the scoreboard has changed. In some cases, it can be more radical and it can feel like the very way to score points has changed! This can be unsettling, even for veteran teams. Here are a few questions you can address with your team to help them aim for the new goal:
Why has the goal changed? What was broken about the last goal?
Why is this new goal so important? What results will come from this?
What are the best practices for achieving this goal? Is there any room to experiment with new techniques, or should they stick to the same methods as before?
There are plenty of other times when it would be easy to be sabotaged by missed expectations, but these are three of the most common. Being prepared for these conversations will go a long way towards fighting back against Poor Communication in your team. When we take the initiative and address these things ahead of time, we set our teams up for success. With discipline and preparation, your team can thrive in every season.
Next week, we'll look at the second sign of Poor Communication in your team: Lack of Trust.