“This isn’t working.”
Chances are, there are times when you as a leader have had this thought.
Chances are, also, that your team members and employees also have had this thought.
The good news is, you have something in common. You have identified something that is not working.
You can choose to ignore the issue, as many do, or you can address it and allow both sides to grow from the experience.
“We would like to hire you for the position of ____. We need your experience!”
Excitedly, the employee goes to work, diving in with passion for the company to succeed and benefit from their efforts.
But over time, they observe things like…
“The leader asked me to be in this role, but they are still doing the work. What is worse is that they are not doing it well, and they are making more problems than they are solving. Instead of being able to build, I am in constant troubleshooting mode. Instead of being proactive as the role would normally require, I am in reactive mode.”
“They had a meeting with only management. Then they came out of the meeting with a list of random tasks for me to do…but they didn’t ask me if there was a better way to do this. I could have saved them a great deal of time and money.”
The employee realizes they are being left out of critical decision-making processes that involve them and that could use their input on the strategic level for which they were hired.
These are indicators of a serious leadership problem.
The good news is, this problem could be resolved by the application of one core concept: CLARITY. In any given leadership or communication issue, there is usually an underlying issue of lack of clarity.
How can you as a leader gain CLARITY for yourself and your team?
While we often think that speaking is communicating, that is only half of the equation. Hearing the message is the other. In the fast-paced world of today’s business, many leaders communicate in text-like fashion: one or two sentences, somewhat encrypted. It is the end result of a conversation they have had in their minds or with their peers. What they fail to consider is that the employee has not been privy to that “conversation.”
To communicate clearly, you may need to slow the pace and explain the goal with a little more detail so the person on the receiving end can get full perspective. Once they get the context of your request, most can carry out the task or project exactly as you envision and prefer.
Let the person do the job for which you hired them.
This is common sense. You hire a person to do a job so you no longer have to do it – so you can shift your focus into other areas. Yet in workplaces around the world, there are “bosses” doing the work of their employees…and not because the employees don’t want to do them.
It boils down to giving up some control and trusting that the person you hired and trained will do their job well. When you trust your employees with responsibility, in most cases, they will gladly accept that responsibility and do their best to help you and the company succeed.
When you do their work for them, it sends a clear signal that you do not trust them or do not have confidence in them.
For new leaders, especially, this can be a challenge. You are accustomed to doing the work, and you are reluctant to give up control for fear they may not do it as well as you have. If you make the shift of trust, you may learn, as many have, that they can not only do it better, but faster as well. By giving up control, you gain greater productivity and profitability, both on their end of the equation and on yours for having the ability to focus on the bigger picture in the business.
And in doing the work, the employee gains clarity.
Delegating, for some leaders, is like putting employees out in the ocean in a rowboat…without as much as two oars with which to paddle, then asking, “What’s taking them so long to get here?”
Taking the time to answer just a few clarifying questions saves time and ensures the job is done well by well-equipped employees. It is worth the investment to take just a few minutes to ensure clarity.
Few people enjoy the process of creating job descriptions. But there is a reason they exist. The purpose of a job description is to clearly define the role. For example, you may hire a person with many credentials and much experience. Do you want them to bring all of that to the table, develop the strategy, and lead the charge? Or do you just want someone to do a task according to strict specifications?
Those two roles are separate distinctions; and, in reality, would be two different candidates.
If you as a leader do not define the role, then you may end up hiring the right person for the wrong role. The result will be stress and frustration for the employee (or boredom), and lack of results for you and the organization.
Good placement starts with good role definition.
While it is important to not waste time in unnecessary meetings and the endless round of “reply all” emails, there is a point of inclusion that is critical to your team. This is a shift from the old ways of thinking, where edicts were rendered by upper management and cycled down to those who were just expected to do the work.
This is a time in business where collaboration is key. Your people are more than just cogs in a wheel. They have ideas, strengths, and skills that you don’t have. If they have a responsibility in an initiative, be sure to include them on the front end of the process. Get their input on strategy and planning, and allow them to be in these types of meetings in order to understand the “why” of what they have been asked to do. Not only does this engender trust, it also provides clarity. There is added value in full perspective.
If some part of the job is not clear to a team member, empower them to request additional training. Be willing to invest in your team and equip them with the training and tools they need to do the job. Just because you hire a highly qualified team member does not mean they understand every nuance of a particular job. Give them the ability to obtain training to fill in the gaps. Their growth benefits the organization.
Yield the Floor
Everyone knows something you do not know. A good leader listens and learns from people in all positions of the organization. Where someone has expertise in an area, yield the floor to them. Listen, and you will gain clarity, not only on the subject matter, but on the inner workings of your organization as well.
The next time you think, “This isn’t working,” or hear it uttered from a team member, see it as an opportunity to gain clarity and to create a stronger leader, team member, and organization.
Learn how you can enhance clarity and communications across your team and in your organization. Click here to learn 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.