It may be one of the most infamous movie lines of all time (from the movie Cool Hand Luke): “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate!”
But the modern-day reality is that, very often, we STILL have a failure to communicate.
“We have policies and procedures; why can’t my employees just comply?”
“We explain the initiatives, and yet no one seems to get it.”
“Why is my team disengaged?”
It could be that you don’t have a policy or procedure problem, a goals problem, or even an engagement problem. What you may have, is a “failure to communicate.”
The good news is that it is one of the easiest problems to fix. And it starts with you as the leader.
How can you prevent failures of communication?
Preventing communication failures comes from overcoming communication limitations. Here are three common limitations.
1. Limited Interpretive Communication
You have likely participated in a team building program where you have several tables of people, and each table is given a set of directions to (for example) build something. What inevitably happens is that the end results, from the same directions, differ for every table.
This is because of one word: Interpretation.
No matter how well you translate your vision as a leader, you must realize that the communication is subject to human interpretation in the mind of the recipient.
How to remedy:
- Understand that this process is inevitable.
- Allow for different perspectives. They actually may be better.
- Engage a mediator to interpret your vision as a big-picture leader to those who do the details. There are certain strengths styles that are ideally suited to help with interpretation.
2. Limited Scope Communication
An example of this might be a D-wired leader who says, “I JUST need this one page changed in the presentation.”
The more detailed S-wired or C-wired employee will likely make that change, but then look beyond that one part to anything else that will be affected by that change. One number, for example, could require updating not just the number on the current page, but the charts on the pages that follow.
What often happens is that the D-wired leader will come back rather quickly to see if the project is done, not realizing that much more work was required than “just” the one thing.
How to remedy:
- First of all, if you have a good team, know that your team members by nature will want to “have your back” as you have theirs. Rather than be annoyed at the seeming stagnation, be thankful they are watching the details for you.
- Secondly, allow plenty of extra time and give your team members the power to do their jobs well. In the end, everyone benefits.
3. Limited Relational Communication
There are people who have worked together so much and so well that they can pick up on needs before they are spoken and finish each other’s sentences and thoughts. This kind of “mental communication” comes from having a well-established working relationship.
This relationship comes from trust and a heart of service to one another. These two factors combine to create a heightened awareness and clarity in communication.
The downside is that, if there is no trust and heart of service – no healthy working relationships between co-workers, there will be poor communication.
How to remedy:
- If something isn’t working, work on the relationship first.
- Establish trust. If it has been broken, repair it.
- Set the example by being a servant leader to your team.
Overcoming these three common limitations will vastly improve your team communications. And that’s an improvement that not only benefits you and your team, but the company’s bottom line.
To learn more about how you can tailor successful communications across your team, click here to learn more about the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.