Are You The Miscommunicating Manager?

September 29, 2014 / Communication, Leadership / 0 Comments /

unclear commsCommunication. It’s the key to any successful relationship – whether personal or professional. Our communication style – how we communicate – has an impact on our success.

The ability to clearly communicate expectations and flex your communication style so that you are understood by others is a skill – and one which many don’t (or choose not to) possess. It’s important to understand your own style and the impact that style may have on others in receiving your message. When this lacks, often miscommunication can occur and that can negatively impact relationships and performance.

Have you ever worked for someone where you feel as though you’re speaking one language and they’re speaking another?

 “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”  – Lee Iacocca

Working for a miscommunicating manager can be challenging and downright frustrating. When someone doesn’t communicate properly – their expectations and the goals and tasks at hand for any given project are not clear – this tends to have negative impacts such as wasted productivity, reduced performance, and low morale.

So, are you a miscommunicating manager? Here are the 3 biggest types of miscommunicating managers I’ve seen:

The mind reader: You’re just supposed to know what they’re thinking. They don’t want to delve into the details – you should know it already because you’re an experienced professional. These people usually have a very specific idea in their head of exactly how they want something to look – but they don’t want to be bothered taking the time to provide that detailed information. You should just know. You should be able to read their mind and give them exactly what they want. Sure, we’re all psychic, right? Often these people then get upset when a deliverable or task is not completed precisely how they envisioned it to look. Good managers and leaders take the time to explain their ideas and expectations. They make themselves approachable and offer opportunities to ask questions and clarifications – they don’t just say “go do this…”

The small picture thinker:  It’s not just about churning out a “work product.” Tasks and deliverables often tie into a larger project, other work streams, strategic priorities, or organizational initiatives. This type of miscommunicating manager has no idea how the task they’ve assigned fits into the bigger picture. Sometimes completing work is about just tactical execution – but not everything should be completed in a silo – or just completed for the sake of getting it done. If the project gets handed down from leadership – without explanation – that goes back the point about being a “mind reader.” If management was handed something and doesn’t see how it fits into the bigger picture, then they should’ve clarified prior to handing it off. Most people like to understand how the work they’re performing helps to support overall organizational success – they want to know they are adding value and not just being used as mindless drones. For a business to truly be successful, those executing must understand the value of their work and how it ties to overall strategy – and they must be able to communicate that to those they lead.

The unclear communicator:  They in their mind see the end result yet leave way too much for interpretation. It’s all in the details – but they can’t seem to – or don’t want to be bothered taking the time to explain the details, the expectations, the logic, and reasoning for why something needs to be done a certain way. These types of miscommunicating managers often then get annoyed when you interpret something in a different way than them. (That thing!  You know – THAT thing!  Yeah – so we need to work on that and I want it done the usual way I like it…you know that usual way.)

“Communicate unto the other person that which you would want him to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.” – Aaron Goldman

Well – if you work for a miscommunicating manager you likely aren’t hitting the mark on the project you’re working on. Sure – sometimes it’s lack of experience and training or other reasons that may contribute to not hitting peak performance. But all too often it’s the unclear communication – part poor interpersonal skills and part poor project management skills – that are a huge contributing factor to derailing projects and negatively impacting performance.

Stuck working with a miscommunicating manager (or two…)? Don’t fret. Here are 3-ways to improve your behaviors and interactions to prevent lost productivity.

Ask questions:  And lots of them.  It’s your job to get the project done or instruct team members on how to complete the task. What things do you need to know?  When do you need to know them?  And who is involved? If something doesn’t make sense to you it’s likely not to be clear to others working on the project as well.

Create processes:  For every type of project – determine the right process for completion. Project management 101 – know not just the who but also the when and how for successful execution. Make sure you take the time to train other’s you work with on these processes so everyone is on the same page.

Communicate: This is kind-of ironic (and the whole point of the article really) but clear communication is imperative to success. Communicate where you are, what you’re doing, and what progress has been made. Make sure all team members who need to be involved in the delivery of a project are involved – no silos – this prevents wasted work by making sure everyone is on the same page. Checking-in frequently to ensure you have the end result heading in the right direction is a key to success.

When all the above are complete – execute the project – and execute it well.

Guilty of being a miscommunicating manager? Here are a few other tips to help increase the effectiveness of your communication. Ask yourself…

What is it I’m really asking?  Map out the reasons for this project, the goals, and the steps you’d like to see completed. This sets the tone and allows for a more productive work environment by making sure everyone is on the same page.

Why am I asking?  To truly hit the mark – your people need to know why you’re asking them to do this project.  They need to know what role the work they’re completing plays in the big picture in order to put forth their best work possible – so inform them. If you don’t know see point one above.

What am I really expecting?  You need to detail out the specifics you want to see.  If you don’t – you leave it up to interpretation. You’re the manager for a reason, after all.  Spell out how your team should implement the project and set expectations.

Want to read more about how to operate  and communicate in a productive manner?  Check out our last blog – Are You the Workplace Bully?

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

Even if you aren’t a miscommunicating manager – you’re bound to encounter one. These are several key-ways to improve your style, make your work life a bit better, and help to improve how responsive, productive, and profitable your organization can become – not to mention just make your day to day life at work that much more pleasant!

About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm.  He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing  people –> performance –> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.

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*All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, publication, and all other use of  any and all of this content is prohibited without authorized consent of Tolero Solutions and the author.


Are You the Workplace Bully?

September 9, 2014 / Leadership / 2 Comments /

stop-workplace-bullyingThe phrase workplace bully holds many meanings and comes in many forms.

Just about every office has one – that person who makes life around the office challenging, toxic, or even downright frustrating. Sometimes it’s not even on purpose.

Workplace bullies are distracting – they derail performance and can impact the organization’s ability to deliver on its mission. Sure – sometimes their “bully nature” may be known to drive work to completion. They may even be very effective at their job. But alienating people and making enemies is never a good long term solution for success. Workplace bullies can cost your organization time, money, and productivity.

“The serial bully, who in my estimation accounts for about one person in thirty in society, is the single most important threat to the effectiveness of organisations, the profitability of industry, the performance of the economy, and the prosperity of society.”Tim Field

So are you the workplace bully – are you working with or for a bully? Here are the 3 biggest workplace bullying behaviors I’ve seen:

  • The 90/10 bully: I call it the 90/10 bully because these bullies are never happy. Nothing is ever good enough. You can do 9 things right yet 1 thing wrong, even slightly wrong, and these bullies will only focus on that 1 thing wrong. To hell with the 9 things right. They rarely if ever give positive feedback and encouragement, but they sure do love to nitpick about the negative. Good managers and leaders address the good and the bad, the positive and the negative. They encourage, coach, teach – they don’t just nitpick for flaws. I mean, really; who wants to work for a “Debbie Downer” anyway!
  • The blame game bully: I call it the blame game bully because these bullies never take any responsibility. They’re usually blaming everyone but themselves. Often accountability is a foreign concept to these folks. It’s easier to point out what someone else did wrong than own up to the fact they may have played a part in the outcome or output they find unsatisfactory. I’ve found this is the most prominent bully in the workplace. Probably because people don’t like to have the finger pointed at them – so they point it at someone else first. The fact of the matter is – if you’re responsible for leading a team of people or even for creating deliverables as part of a team – their mistakes are your mistakes, regardless of finger pointing. You want to be successful – help others to learn and succeed – don’t try and throw them under the bus.
  • The argumentative bully: Do I really need to explain this one? You know who I am talking about. No matter what you say they’ll say the opposite. The sky is blue…no it’s white. This is one of the most destructive of the bullying behaviors because it inhibits productivity upwards to 100%. For every minute spent with an argumentative bully it’s costing you at least 5 minutes of productivity. And after the disagreement has ended, one must cool down to relax and refocus prior to getting back to work. Not conducive to high performance!

So a bit of advice on why not to be a bully leader or why not to tolerate a workplace bully:

  • People will never respect you. People may do what you want if you bully them, they may be intimidated by you, though they will most likely will not respect you. Without mutual respect, you usually can’t have an honest and trusting relationship – the type that is really productive both personally and professionally.
  • Bullied people are usually not happy people. Unhappy people are usually not engaged people. Lower employee morale and lower employee engagement contribute to lower customer satisfaction and lower customer satisfaction contributes to decline in profits.
  • Reputation is important for a quality leader. If you have a reputation for being a hardnosed, detail orientated, assertive go-getter who still listens to others ideas and values and recognizes a job well done, that’s not necessarily a bad reputation – go you for being a role model! Actually, some people thrive under that type of leadership. However, if you have a reputation for being a self serving, obnoxious, intolerant, tyrannical leader then most likely your bad reputation will precede you. If you have a bad reputation, good luck attracting the best and brightest talent to want to follow you and help you succeed.

Guilty of being a bully? Stuck working with one (or two…)? Don’t fret. Here are 3-ways to improve your behaviors and interactions to prevent lost productivity.

  • Breathe: Yes, I know we all do that anyway, but I mean really breathe. Just stop and take a few of those yoga style deep breathes.
  • Communication: I know you’re probably thinking – well of course I communicate. Yes, we all do, both verbally and non-verbally. We also all have distinctive communication styles and preferences.  In short, if you feel your button is getting pushed as someone is communicating with you, tell them.
  • Feedback: Giving and receiving feedback is imperative to making sure your hot buttons don’t get pushed, and is imperative to helping to not push others – it’s a cycle.  And per those who think bullying others is cool – they won’t think it’s so cool when it’s the ones they’re bullying who they end up reporting to in the workplace!
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”Jim Rohn

Want to read some more about how to deal with your buttons getting pushed? Check out our blog: Are Your Buttons Getting Pushed? 3 Tips On What You Can Do.

Even if you aren’t a workplace bully you’re bound to encounter one – these are 3 key-ways to improve your style, make your work life a bit better, and help to improve how responsive, productive, and profitable your organization can become.

About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm.  He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing  people –> performance –> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.

Email | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Facebook

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*All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, publication, and all other use of  any and all of this content is prohibited without authorized consent of Tolero Solutions and the author.


5 Truths About Leadership

July 23, 2014 / Leadership / 1 Comment /

leadership transitionAs an Organizational Development (OD) and Leadership practitioner, I often find myself having conversations about leadership – what it is and what it isn’t – and how to be a good leader.  It’s time for some truths.

So what are some hard truths about leadership?

  1. It ain’t easy – Anyone who has ever been in a leadership role knows it’s a complex – and often an exhausting and lonely position. Be careful how fast you rush to climb the leadership ladder. Leadership requires being focused on more than one thing at a time: strategy, process, culture – people. Seeing how all these things are connected takes vision and the ability to see the bigger picture. Successful leadership requires heightened self awareness, expert communication, and accountability. These aren’t skills we all inherently have – or have a desire to learn. It doesn’t get any easier at the top – and the learning doesn’t just stop.
  2. Leadership isn’t management If you’re in a leadership position, you may likely share many of the same responsibilities as a manager – truth is the roles are not the same. Leadership requires creating a vision of the future and engaging people in moving toward it. Leadership connects the big ideas to what matters to the people around them: employees, customers, and stakeholders. Leadership sets direction, builds agreement, influences and motivates others, and inspires commitment. Management develops specific goals and project plans, allocates resources, and solves obstacles to execute on the vision and strategy set forth by leadership. Management executes plans to make leaderships future direction a reality. Leadership and management are both essential to building great organizations.
  3. You can’t do it all Great leaders understand their organizational culture – they’ve most likely helped and are continuing to help shape the culture and the future direction. Leaders need to delegate and they need to empower. Truth is many leaders are great visionaries and see big picture very well, but if they don’t hire the right people to connect the dots – and empower them to do so – then the vision often doesn’t become a reality.  It’s often difficult for some leaders to back off from trying to have a hand in everything – if you want the business to be successful you need to let the people you hired perform their jobs. Let the managers manage, let the subject matter experts deliver. Make yourself available but back off.
  4. Know how to communicate Just because you may be in a leadership role doesn’t always mean you are an expert communicator. It’s imperative for success that leaders know how to communicate. Truth – this is not a skill obtained by title alone. Some leaders have the gift for communication, some can learn, some may just never master the art. Part of being a good communicator is also being open to feedback from those you lead. We all have developmental areas regardless of position in the organization. Communication and remaining open to feedback is how you will learn where you can improve. Training exists everywhere, but before you jump on the bandwagon of the current theory/trend, request some direct feedback and then look into what training may help best address developmental areas.
  5. You are what you do – Leaders must embody the values they want employees to adopt. It’s necessary that leadership serves as role models. Mean what you say and do what you mean. Truth -they are watching!  To be a role model you must be accountable, approachable, compassionate, transparent, and open to feedback. Exemplify the best and lead by example.

No great leader ever got anything done without inspiring and empowering others. Leadership can’t happen in a vacuum. The best leaders don’t shy away from facing hard truths – and they never stop learning. Interested in more?  Feel free to contact me, and I’m happy to share my checklist: How to Become a Great Leader.

So, what are some leadership truths you’ve experienced? (Tweet them here!)

About Scott Span, MSOD: is Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Leadership firm.  He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing  people –> performance –> profit™, creating high performance organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.

Email | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Facebook

______________________________________________________________

*All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, publication, and all other use of  any and all of this content is prohibited without authorized consent of the author.