Job love relationship hack #1: understanding
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People have a universal need to understand and be understood.
The need to understand is such a powerful force that it has put a man on the moon, led to the discovery of electricity and insulin, and resulted in a comprehensive map of the human genome. Our curiosity has also led to a thriving tabloid and gossip business!
The need to be understood has resulted in the development of language, the printing press, the arts and other forms of self-expression. Many of us know too well the frustration of a toddler who hasn’t yet learned to communicate effectively!
The great information divide
A great workplace is built on a mutual understanding – it is an environment where everyone understands and is understood. Yet far too often I see two solitudes — management and leadership on one side and employees on the other. This makes zero sense.
Your employees are not children – they are smart adults. And anyway, didn’t you hire them for the very intelligence you are now stifling because you are not satisfying their critical need to understand and be understood?
Workplaces where there is a lack of understanding are characterized by frustration, disenchantment, a lack of motivation and innovation and a poor relationship between leaders and employees. In fact, the gap between CEOs and their employees is at an all-time high.
What causes the gap in understanding:
- Employees who don’t have the full and complete picture of what is going on.
- People who don’t have all of the information they need to do their jobs.
- Management who don’t truly understand their employees and employees who don’t understand management (the business equivalent of Men are from Mars, Woman are from Venus)
Getting to a place where there is better understanding at all levels is not difficult. It does require a willingness to think differently about your internal communications and to push outside of your comfort zone.
Here are five ways you can create a workplace with modern employee communications that builds understanding (and job love):
- Open up: be transparent and share as much information as you can. For example, if you are launching a new business strategy, share the thinking and research that is behind the strategy. Your people will see the logic behind the choices you are making and will more easily buy-in to the direction you are taking.
- Listen to hear: feedback forms and town halls are important, but you need to go beyond the more traditional ways of gathering insight. So have real conversations with your people, ask the right questions, and do so in way that is safe for everyone. Allowing people to be their authentic, human self can build understanding in a way that is truly meaningful.
- End the corporatebullshitspeak: too often companies (management) use fancy words and a passive voice when communicating with employees. It ends up coming across as though you have something to hide. Keep it simple, straightforward and direct and forget sounding fancy.
- Promote involvement: As Benjamin Franklin said, “tell me and I forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” It’s proven that unless you involve someone, they will struggle, which blocks buy-in and commitment. To use the example of communicating a new strategy of your organization, you will need to go beyond building commitment so that the strategy becomes reality. This will only happen by involving people at all levels so they own the strategy and bring it to life in day-to-day decisions and actions.
- Provide context and content. Your employees want to understand the ‘why’. Providing context and explaining ‘the why’ reinforces the big picture and doesn’t force them to put the pieces of the puzzle together themselves. I often hear this: “our people our too busy, we need to reduce the information we send to them.” I don’t believe it for a minute. What they are saying is that, “we don’t have time to wade through too information that is not well written, organized for easy consumption, and is not connected to what I do on a day-to-day basis.” I am a strong advocate of providing lots of content but making sure it is organized based on the needs of each employee audience group and layered or chunked in a way that makes it easy for people to get the information they want, when they want it.
Making these changes may sound easy but you’ll need commitment at all levels and a real desire to build the mutual understanding that leads to job love. Send me an email at email@example.com if you are ready to start building a workplace with job love!