Much of success in business relies on getting everyone on the same page.
And inevitably someone has to choose to lead the charge in getting clarity.
In the Army, we reviewed ‘comms’ (communications) procedures during pre-mission briefings to ensure that everyone would be on the “same frequency.”
In this case, gaining clarity could mean the difference between life and death.
In team sports like football and baseball, we see players and coaches using all sorts of signals and methods to achieve communications clarity to have precise execution of the play.
Without clarity things fall apart as the play unfolds; the feedback loop is immediate and obvious—from both the players and the fans.
At work, it is not as obvious as the fans booing you when there is a loss of alignment and focus.
I see it every day, and I understand why it’s so easy to fall into this trap.
We’re all uniquely designed and are naturally inclined to communicate in unique ways.
The goal is to understand your natural behaviour and make positive adjustments so that everyone clearly understands your message.
Clarifying Clarity Clues
Here are also two important clues to clear up the murky fog of communication and gain greater clarity –
Don’t assume that everyone hears (and visualizes) your message.
We have a natural tendency to assume that something is clear to us; we assume that it would be clear to everyone else.
Using the sports analogy, teams usually have set plays, and they rehearse them in practice for weeks before they execute them in the game.
Work situations may not have a playbook, so when the leader calls the play, team members create their individual mental diagrams/pictures of what it’s supposed to look like.
Some are distracted and never even hear the message.
As a leader, we must regularly and publicly clarify our expectations.
At the top of the organization, most of these expectations are at the 37,000-foot level.
As we move down the organization, the clarity needs to get more granular as standards more specifically to the tasks.
This is hard work because it takes mental discipline, time, and energy to clarify what is expected of our employees and to supervise the level of detail is required.
Clarify Where You Are
How are you doing on clarifying standards and expectations?
Reflect on it yourself and look for times when people were not on the same frequency with you. What happened? Whose responsibility was it?
Get feedback from a couple of your stronger players on how well you are doing on clarity.