How many times have you thought one thing, only to learn later on that it was actually a different thing? The thing can be almost anything like perception, project outcome, survey results or grading of objectives. It is all about what you “think you see or know” vs. what others see or know. Think back to a time you were moving down a path because you thought that everyone was on board, only to find out that not everyone was on board. Pretty frustrating to think one way and actually have it another. How do you really stay in touch? How do you course correct quickly and get aligned? Now that I have you in deep navel gazing on your own experiences, I want to share a couple of mine.
I don’t know of anyone that actually is 100% in tune with everything that is going on within their organization. If you know of someone, ask them if that is actually true. We all are human beings, we are not perfect and we make assumptions to make sure that we are moving in (hopefully) a positive direction. No one wants to fail! It is easy to think that everything that I want to get done is the “right” thing to do. My passion, heart and soul are all in when it comes to making a positive impact on my organizations goals. There could be disconnect. Probably is disconnect somewhere. When I was doing some recent culture survey work, the data was definitely pointing to some disconnect within the leaderships approach and direction to what the overall organization was seeing or thinking. It has happened to me a few times in my career. Ever think way that is happening? How about the all important part, how to fix the missing connections and get back onto the right path?
Here are some of my key learning’s over my experiences:
- Staying in tune with the organization takes some pretty strong communication skills. Communication models have been around since the 1940’s. They focus on the sender, message, receiver and interpretation of the message (potential feedback). The studies that have spawned from the model are endless. When you are focusing on why your perception is different than your organizations, look at the communication model and be totally objective. Look for breakdowns. If you can’t be objective, ask someone that will tell you the truth, even if it hurts. Make sure the message is clear. Make sure your actions align with the message you are delivering. Listen and get a real time pulse of your organization. Be approachable. Set up a feedback loop for the organization to provide you their thoughts and ideas. Don’t be afraid to course correct or start over, if necessary. I learned a very long time ago, there is success in failure, if you are willing to learn something and apply that learning in the future.
- Stand up and be accountable. I had an interesting discussion with an organization leader the other day. He hinted that he does not understand why his people hate him. He made this statement, “they just don’t understand the bigger picture.” I asked him to really evaluate the overall communication process and how he works within that. I also moved to, if it is over half the organization – then maybe there is a real problem. Start with what you can control, which is your actions and make some positive changes. Talk with your key folks, get their perspective on the situation. Tell them, “what we have today is not working. I need to change. How can I get better?” Next step – shut up and listen carefully, do not defend yourself. Afterwards, stand up in front of the organization and admit you made a mistake, deliver a clearer message and action on that message. Promise you will be closer to the organization in the future. Spend time with your organization.
As a leader, having your blinder on is the worse possible thing you could do for your organization. I look at my past blog posts (accountability, rolling up you sleeves and taking action) and think that they just led me to writing this post. We can not be blinded by past successes or that I am the boss, that everything we say and do will be great moving forward. We have to look at ourselves with a clear lens, we are not perfect. We will make mistakes. We just need to quickly learn from those mistakes and keep our organizations moving forward.