People can achieve so much, and the opposite is also true. In business the human element is considered to be one of the most baffling assets to deal with, motivating, Supervising, communicating, Coaching and Mentoring them.
An example of how people can be less than incredible is in parenting, Parents can read great books on how to positively raise their child, watch countless programs featuring a ‘Super-Nanny’ yet still manage to have less than desirable outcomes (behaviours and attitudes).
In a work context it sometimes seems there are those who rise to supervisory and management levels yet they have low ability, skills behaviours and attitudes. Then there are those who are offered higher positions but value their sanity (no wonder the others rise to the surface.) It reminds me of the Homer Simpson quote “Wow Mr Smithers must picked me for my motivational skills, because everyone says they have to work harder when I’m in charge!
Just because you can lead a horse to water, does not mean you can make it think… or drink for that matter. Employees, well they are very similar (at least as an analogy).
There are a lot of variables to consider in the communication stakes as any Business Trainer or Coach can soon tell you. So how do we find out the variables and what do we do with the information to obtain optimum results? Lets start with the variables
- Am I bothered? – Today I can’t be bothered with work because so many things are happening in my personal life I am not focused, my attitude is appalling (and I know it) I would prefer to simply walk away from it all right now.
- Am I skilled – I put on a good front, they think I have the skills to be a supervisor. Fooey for that, I even let them know I was not sure about taking on the role, my boss says he will help me with the details, says he can be a great Mentor… I think it will need more than that but hey who am I to argue I get more pay and spend less time arguing with customers, that’s got to be good!
- Am I listening? – What did he say, something about a new order coming in and he will email me… Hmm I will say I didn’t get it if it doesn’t make sense…
- Do I care – After all I have said and done, upper management does not seem to care about anything I have to say. Not so much as a thank you or a well done. My care factor is currently at zero, know to fake that I look ‘hip and happening’.
- Communicate – Yep I tell the guys, blah, blah, blah… they go off and do their thing, mostly they do it right and every now and then I get my backside kicked for a poorly performing team, I tell them “Hey I’m only human” they back off and things go back to normal. Blah, blah, blah… Heck what do I know about better levels of communication, I do know that some of the guys in my team scare me and I just hope the others will simply push things along.
- Goals – Where is that list we brainstormed? Oh yes and the company values… I better have a look at the website, do a quick read up and see if I am getting things right before I go to the production meeting and see where the goals are at. Let’s see if I can fake it ’til I make it yet again…
- Attitude – How do people measure attitudes anyway? So I’m expected to have this really positive attitude… But wait there are all these conflicting things, work issues, personal issues, life issues! How can anyone hold a positive attitude for long, PHEW! What’s that the boss just said something, hmmm nod knowingly and ask for the details later… “Oh my attitude, why do you ask?
With so many variables it seems there is little hope of ever getting good communication to happen. Now that you know some of the variables what will you do next time you have to let someone know something, will you keep the information you are communicating top of mind and then watch to see if they are really listening, all the time thinking they may be thinking something else?
This is where I would put my ‘Coaches hat’ on and ensure that the environment is right when communicating, and then test to see if they have understood what is being communicated, then ask how they feel about what was said, but mostly I would aim to know the person I am communicating with so I can put the communication in context with their situation. “I know you are busy juggling you home life at the moment and things are hectic, but are you able to do some overtime, this week? You can, so how many hours can I put you down for? Are you sure that’s ok? Can you confirm it with me on the morning of that day?”
There are many ways to ensure clear communication takes place, so take a look at the variables and identify some of the issues as you communicate with your team. They should be comfortable communicating with you and vice versa. Sometimes we just need to take a few more things into account than the message we have to give.