These days, the world is hungry for transparency and this is especially true during challenging business environments. Regardless of the size of your business, there will be a time when every business will be faced with some kind of threat to the status quo. This can be in the form of crises, a market shift, a legislative change that threatens the viability of the business, or simply economic realities. During these trying economic times, how a business owner communicates to his staff can make the difference between having full support of the staff, or going alone having only lip service to back your ideas.
People Know Phony
Most people are fed up with fake modesty, phony bravado, and unrealistic promises. Despite what some business owners and executives may think, the people that work for them do know what is happening in the company or at least can sense when something is wrong. They might not know the specifics of what is threatening the company, but they do instinctively know something is not right. People can sense a positive or negative atmosphere even without words being exchanged between management and their subordinates.
Therefore, when there is a discrepancy between what they sense and what is being said to them, it creates what psychologists call “cognitive dissonance” and this erodes their trust and belief in the company. Sure, in the short run, it is possible to hide what is really happening. However, the impact on your crew can be more devastating when the truth finally comes out. In the current environment of instant communication and reporting, the truth will come out.
The Fake Cheerleader
Workers in all industries are tired of the company cheerleader who tells them that all is well albeit what is evident to everyone. At times, the cheerleader is the business owner or executive who perpetually holds meetings and repeats slogans proclaiming that all is well as long as we all believe in a positive future. These proclamations are broadcast shamelessly even when the world around is providing direct evidence to the contrary. Sadly, some leaders will continue to push the empty promises of a bright and prosperous future expecting workers to share in the fantasy.
What occurs is comparable to the scene in Wizard of OZ when Dorothy and her friends are told not to notice the man behind the curtain, when everyone can clearly see what is really occurring. So, why does it appear that at times workers will accept the slogans and play along? The simple reality is that people need their paychecks and will go along with the false promises until they can find another position while all along hoping that reality will step in and correct the delusion.
The bigger cost is the loss of good faith and belief these workers had in the company. The effect from the loss of faith by these employees is especially felt when the company really needs that extra push and effort to be exerted. Then, it becomes much like the story, “The Boy Cried Wolf”, the populace only ignores the cries for help.
Strong Connection between Words and Deeds
Workers and staff want a realistic perspective from their leaders. They are not interested in happy talk telling them that everything will be fine without a logical plan of action. Instead, employees want to know that you are aware of the challenges surrounding the business and have a viable plan of action. What I am stating her is not a bunch of hyperbole; rather these concepts are supported by a series of recent management studies stating the same.
Recognizing the Various Levels of Communication
When communicating through an organization of any size, a leader or owner must receive the “buy in” from the immediate supervisors from the very beginning. This is because all workers look first to their immediate supervisors before considering other evidence.
What this means is that the owner or business executive must first ensure all their middle and lower managers understand and support their viewpoint first before conveying the larger vision to frontline employees. At every level throughout the organization, managers and their employees need to be informed about the current reality and the strategies that will help mitigate those challenges.
World class business owners and executives have the ability to take a business challenge and communicate it into a call to action when the organization becomes a hero overcoming the business obstacles. They communicate a viable vision that allows employees to not only rally around the cause, but also participate in finding other realistic solutions.
Furthermore, effective leaders spell out their actions in public at every level. They don’t hide in their offices or try to soften difficult news acting as if it will go away on its own. They understand that their workforce can handle the truth, but they can’t deal with phony.
As a business owner, it is always helpful to have a sounding board of like-minded individuals to help center us. At Bay Area Mastermind we have created small groups of highly successful business owners who gather together to learn the latest business strategies, discuss ideas, and stay on the cutting edge of business management. You are welcome to take a test drive of a Bay Area Mastermind meeting today.