The founder’s guide to clear communication for faster results
Showing up to work and wondering why your team can’t execute is frustrating.
Great leaders understand that lack of execution is a symptom of a larger problem. Often his problem is a result of a team needing to understand WHY they do the things they do.
When people know where your company is going, they are more likely to be engaged and productive.
Leadership is the ability to keep people focused. This means YOU need to create systems that will remind your team what they should be focused on and why their work is meaningful. They will only remember if you remind them.
Three questions you should ask yourself:
- Where do I see this organization in 5 years?
- What role does my team play in creating this future?
- How often do I talk about our shared vision for the future?
Let’s look at the data behind the impact of having a clear vision:
- 50% of employees are unclear about the direction of the business,
- 42% of Gen Z workers would even take a pay cut if it meant working a job that makes a difference in the world
- 84% of employees say that they don’t get enough information from their leaders
- Only 40% of employees strongly agree that they know what their company stands for and what makes their brand different from other companies.
Instead of assuming you are an incredible communicator, take time to think about where the gaps are in your organization. Losing employees because they don’t understand their impact is expensive. Paying employees to be unproductive because they lack clarity is expensive.
Taking time to talk about your why more often will cost you nothing, but it requires you to be intentional with your communication.
Inspirational leaders consistently reinforce how the actions of today will create change and a better tomorrow. Your team meetings, one-on-ones, and company emails are all opportunities to remind your team why their work is important.
Three quick tips to help you create a shared vision:
- Spend time listening to your team and understanding what is important to them. When you understand their strengths, needs, and values, it will be easier for you to connect with them and gain their trust and commitment.
- Talk about small wins often. Momentum leads to big wins and is created by recognizing small wins. Your message to your team should be, “What we are doing is working. Let’s keep it going.”
- Get comfortable with being repetitive. Having a team who predicts you will talk about the vision every time you meet is a much better problem than having a team who doesn’t know the purpose of their work.
It’s your job to make sure everyone on your team knows the vision, mission, and values of the company—and how their specific role helps move the company forward.
Here is a simple step you can steal.
One way to create clarity in your organization is to create aspirational expectations–values-based expectations for your team.
Here is an early draft of the aspirational expectations I wrote for my team at Workweek. (I’m sharing it early here.)
1. We start with trust
As a manager and teammate, your team needs to know you are competent and have integrity.
The easiest way to show them you have both is by doing what you say you will do.
- Hitting deadlines
- Honoring commitments
- Doing what you say you will
- Being on time for meetings
As a manager, you need to maintain trust with your team and the departments you support.
2. We embrace healthy conflict
Hoping conflict will go away by ignoring it is like hoping weeds in your garden will go away when you ignore them.
Your goal is not to hope conflict disappears because it won’t. Your goal is to get better at managing it.
This means taking time to assume the best intentions and listening to understand. Of course, there will be times we don’t agree, and this is healthy. But once a decision has been made as a team, the expectation is that we all unite and remain committed to excellence.
3. We do the Soil Work
Seeds can only grow when the soil is healthy. For our department, this means understanding the Goals, Needs, and Strengths of our team and the departments we work with.
Knowing each of these will help us find Win/Win situations when collaborating. This will also help us understand what role we will need to play to ensure communication is clear, projects are successful, and we hit our deadlines.
4. We start slow so we can go fast
Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
Before starting projects, we will take the time to ensure all parties involved are informed of changes and we consider potential impacts.
This will help us to be empathetic as we prepare for potential obstacles and roadblocks before executing a change.
5. We are Urgent with Feedback and Admitting Mistakes
Don’t wait 10 days for a conversation that will take 10 minutes.
Remember, the purpose of feedback is to help. Be direct with feedback because you are invested in the success of others, regardless of level or experience–because nobody is as smart as everybody. We all have unique values we bring to our larger company mission.
We will all make mistakes. When this happens, it’s important for you to respond in a way that is aligned with your goals and values. Be transparent about mistakes made and what has been learned.
Growth Mindset is a big deal over here. We are all committed to getting better and investing in the success of others.
6. We make space to define our priorities
Every day should start with the end in mind.
Decide what you want to accomplish and create a clear plan of action.
When you anticipate obstacles, communicate them with the team. Everyone on our team should have a plan for their day, and nobody on our team should suffer in silence.