Effective leadership is all about communication. It is about supporting your staff by answering the right questions in the right way. Better communication is the way to improved employee engagement and better profitability. More communication is not always better communication. There are certain kind of answers you should not give or you risk reducing employee engagement. Here’s a list of four types of answers that make you a bad leader.
1. The answers they don’t understand
Giving a complex answer no one understands does not make you seem brilliant. Rather it makes the people uncomfortable, thinking you just don’t know the answer. Have you ever seen a slide explaining a company strategy, which in facts does explain nothing? The board of directors might have spent entertaining hours fine tuning the wordings and setting decimals to the of our success columns of the Balanced scorecard, but the people have no clue why. Remember to simplify so that you can give an understandable answer. If you cannot give the answer in form that people understand even after multiple iterations, don’t give it at all. Or rather rethink it once more.
2. The answers people feel irrelevant to them
Sharing information is crucial but not everyone is interested in everything. To get the people to understand the big picture, the sales people must know why procurement exists and even controllers most likely should have an idea of what kind of products the company does. However, ensure the communication is relevant, and preferable even entertaining, or it will go unnoticed.
3. The answers the people would have liked to give themselves
Imagine a sales person hearing that the company has just chosen a new CRM system, which is much more efficient, and great, and perfect, and everything... But, no one asked her how it should be before choosing it. This is a great way of getting people angry. Always allow the people to participate, or better yet to co-create, decisions that greatly affect their own work.
4. The answers the people feel are not true
Do the people prefer good news over bad news? Sure. Do the people prefer false good news over true bad news. Hell no! It is sometimes painful to admit that our product has failed or east wing is on fire right now (please keep calm), but you should not try to hide it. Don’t claim the most important company value is diversity while having only 57 years old Caucasian male with classes and degree in engineering in the management board.
What about if you give wrong kind of answers? Don’t worry, the people will tell you if you are listening. Just remember to treat the employees as customers and communication as the product. If your employers don’t buy your communication, it is always your fault. Just make it better next time.