I asked a group of managers (coming from a variety of industries and positions) “What do you think most bosses want from their employees?” They reached quick consensus: responsiveness, self-sufficiency, creativity, and candor topped the list (with a beautiful argument about the pros and cons of compliance).
I then asked, “How do you know what YOUR manager wants?” The responses were more varied and cryptic.
“You’ve got to watch for clues.”
“You learn by trial and error.”
“You’ve got to watch their body language.”
“You learn what not to do when others screw up.”
“Or worse, I learn when I screw up.”
And then the obvious question. “How do you think your team learns what you expect?” Crickets. Apparently mind-reading is a common, yet invisible requirement in many job descriptions.
How much time would we save if we were more explicit about what we want and need?
How much energy could be diverted to actually working on the work, rather than guessing what’s on one another’s minds?
- “A response to my questions within 12 hours is vital. Let me explain why. We had this client _________.”
- “I travel a lot so I’m going to count on you to make some important decisions when I’m in the air. Let me explain my process of evaluating a good decision.”
- “There are some areas where I expect 100% compliance. All security standards must be followed at all times and we never jeopardize a customer’s private information.” In other areas I’m all for creativity and experimentation. I expect you to push back when something feels stupid. Let me tell you about a time _______.”
You know what you want and need. Your employees know what they need in order to meet your expectations. Imagine the possibilities with just a little more communication?