The crux of communicating with your team is – Perspective.
Everyone comes with their own thoughts, opinions, and knowledge based on life experiences. These experiences shape our perspectives.
Is that painting expensive or an acceptable price? The answer would vary based on perspective. Some people find Salvador Dali’s art to be odd and nonsensical. I personally find “Woman with a Head of Roses” to be one of the most beautiful works of art.
When communicating with a team we must remember perspective, which requires us to be clear with what we say and how we say it.
Perspective is what creates the “game of telephone” effect. Those times when you think you’ve been pretty *expletive* clear, and yet somehow they just don’t get it. Often this is because there was a gap in communication created by perspective. The gap between what you said, and what they think you meant.
This happens because different words have different meanings to people (and sometimes multiple meanings) based on their subjective perspective. The key word here is subjective.
- What is easy for some is hard for others.
- When someone says “cheap” do they mean poor quality or inexpensive?
So if we are up against perspectives, and subjective interpretations how do we ensure that we are clear with what we say and how we say it?
Define it for your team.
Let’s jump into an example. Many organizations strive to be “Excellent.” Beyond good. And excellence is subjective, it’s open to perspective. Therefore, this word is at risk of presenting a gap in communication.
So, define excellence in a way that makes sense for your company.
- Define it among your top leadership.
- Then bring it down to discuss with team managers.
- Then make it the topic of a weekly meeting among individual teams.
- Determine how excellence is upheld (spoken of and acted upon).
- Decide when excellence is expected.
- Elaborate on what everyday excellence looks like, as well as milestone excellence.
Then introduce this information as a new code of conduct.
- Ensure everyone understands how excellence is defined.
- Inquire if they agree with that perspective.
- Support teams in choosing up or choosing out.
- Provide resources for you teams to act in excellence.
I offer Aristotle’s words on the topic of excellence:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Your takeaway is this…
- LEADERS: When you feel like a broken record, have patience and remember perspective.
- TEAMS: We all know what ‘assume’ does. Remember to ask clarifying questions anytime you are tempted to assume.