Cool Hand Leadership: 3 Steps to Avoid Failures to Communicate
Updated: Feb 24
One of the sad truths of the business world is that, no matter how open your lines of communication are, sooner or later, miscommunication is bound to occur. When these mishaps happen, it can be easy to look at your team and toss them under the bus in your place. However, you’re still the boss, and as the boss, it’s your job to make sure that you are getting through to your employees when delegating tasks. The buck stops with you. With that in mind, it’s good to shrink the opportunity for miscommunications in your business. But where to begin? Luckily, it’s relatively straightforward. With three easy steps, you can build stronger communications within your company.
1. Be clear, concise, and observant.
Make sure that you have a clearly defined vision and understanding of what you’re asking your employees to accomplish—after all, if you lack direction, how are they expected to follow you along to the desired outcome? While delivering your instructions, keep it short and to the point. If you go off on too many rambling tangents, your team may have trouble picking out what matters in your instructions. Use simple language and avoid unnecessarily large words. Finally, and maybe most importantly, keep an eye on your employees’ body language. If they seem unsure, pause and check in: they may have a question they are too self-conscious to ask without prompting.
2. Assume nothing.
It’s easy to fall back into the safety net of acronyms, idioms, and other lingo in your business. However, just because certain terms and words are common knowledge to you doesn’t mean that they are to everyone. The same goes with the perceived difficulty of an assigned task: Michael Jordan can dunk a basketball without blinking, but the same can’t be said for most of us. Make sure that your employee has a complete, well-rounded picture of what you’re asking them to do as well as knowing how to do it before sending them off to complete their task.
3. Ask for a summary.
Before dismissing your employee or continuing your day, ask your employee to give you a summary of what you have just instructed them to do. This can clear up any miscommunications or misunderstandings before anything becomes a problem. Ask a few questions to make sure that you AND the employee are on the same page. Remember, you’re not grilling them in an interrogation but instead working together with your team to keep everyone on track.
Remember—even with these three tips, miscommunications are bound to happen. We’re only human, after all. When miscommunications occur, don’t be so quick to blame your employees. When your finger points at them, their fingers will all be pointing back at you. Luckily, with a dose of intention and a whole lot of patience, you can minimize the amount of miscommunications happening within your business and work with your team to build a stronger company.