Today’s post comes from Skip Weisman of Weisman Success Resources, Inc. Skip helps business leaders create “Champion Organizations” with improved personnel, productivity and profits.
During a lunch meeting with a new client I learned he was becoming increasingly frustrated with senior team members and frontline employees who:
- Were not taking responsibility for their jobs
- Needed constant prodding to get things done
- Were not responsive to client requests and phone messages
- Were throwing their fellow employees “under the bus”
- Were having shouting matches in the office
- Procrastinated on business opportunities
- Were showing up late or leaving early with no explanation
- Had negative attitudes
- Were not producing results
My project began searching for the underlying cause of these issues through interviews, focus groups and observation. Through this research it was learned that my client was violating virtually every leadership communication mistake.
To simplify the project I categorized them into “The 7 Deadly Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication.”
These behaviors had caused significant damage to my client’s business, estimated at about $5 million over 10 years:
- Communication Sin #1: Lack of Specificity
This causes people to mind-read or guess as to what is being requested. Details are left out or are ambiguous. The recipient fails to ask for more specifics and has to figure it out on their own.
- Communication Sin #2: Lack of Focus on Desirable Behaviors
People are great at saying what they don’t want or don’t want others to do, but have trouble identifying the preferred desirable behaviors. Where your focus goes, grows, so people are getting more of what they don’t want because they continue to focus on it.
- Communication Sin #3: Lack of Directness
This is where people gossip behind the backs of co-workers, peers, bosses and subordinates. Another example is the leader who calls a team meeting and offers a blanket directive to fix a problem better addressed to one offending individual. A third is when an employee tells a manager the mistakes of co-worker hoping to make themselves look good.
- Communication Sin #4: Lack of Immediacy
This is procrastination. This is when communication is avoided because the conversations are difficult and leaders don’t know how to approach the offending party, so they tolerate poor behavior.
- Communication Sin #5: Lack of Appropriate Tone
Ever had someone in a professional setting raise his or her voice at you in a condescending or threatening manner? How about responding in a sarcastic manner? These are just two ways inappropriate tone ruins company cultures.
- Communication Sin #6: Lack of Focused Attention
In this day of technology and multi-tasking too many office conversations occur passing in the hallway, while one person is checking/responding to e-mails, or talking while on hold.
- Communication Sin #7: Lack of Respectful Rebuttals
This may be the most common, yet subconscious of all leadership communication sins. It’s the conversations when someone agrees or provides positive feedback in the first part of their sentence, only to be followed by “but.” After the “but” comes the other shoe and you end up feeling misled and unfulfilled.
These seven leadership communication habits cause significant damage to an organization’s culture, including low employee morale, motivation and productivity. Long-term toleration of these communication styles creates a low-trust, highly toxic work environment.
The best organizations develop an environment where leaders and their teams agree to communicate at a high level and hold each other accountable to overcoming these communication challenges.
Skip Weisman of Weisman Success Resources, Inc. of Poughkeepsie, NY helps business leaders create “Champion Organizations” with improved personnel, productivity and profits. He can be reached at 845-463-3838. His latest White Paper is “The 7 Deadly Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication” available free at www.HowToImproveOrganizationalCommunication.com.