Project failures, reduced productivity and stress can be linked directly to poor communication by leaders. Are you guilty of overwhelming your team with buzzwords, emails and texts? If so, it’s time to break your bad habits.
If you’re a leader and your team complains about being overwhelmed, you’re not alone. We often blame technology – whether it’s the telephone 50 years ago or social media today – for much of our ills at work. But the real problem may not be your team tweeting too much but rather your poor communication skills as a leader.
Think about it: How many times have you sent an email to a team member who is sitting in the same room? How many times have you avoided picking up the phone in favor of sending a text or an email? How many times have you sent emails that require more than three follow-up emails because the team seems to be confused?
If you’re guilty of any – or all – of these offenses, then it’s time you listened to Phil Simon, author of “Message Not Received: Why Business Communication is Broken and How to Fix It.”
He says that while poor communication has always existed, the world is moving so fast these days that poor skills in this area will have bottom-line consequences and only grow worse unless leaders make a commitment to change their ways.
While “there’s no shortage of bad examples of emails out there,” Simon says the real problem is not email itself, but the people misusing it and often peppering it with jargon that no one clearly understands. He provides some examples:
“The next generation of cloud is about people. Their WaaS technology is the middleware to match the right person to the right work at the right time.”
“By plugging into the information ecosystem and participating through the creation and curation of information, organizations can augment existing information channels.”
Part of the problem, Simon explains, is that people like sending emails because it clears their plate of a task. By firing off an email with lots of jargon, a leader may feel like she is showing the team that she is supporting the company strategy. But as Peter Drucker notes, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
So the leader who piles jargon-riddled emails onto her team may feel like she’s communicating, but the reality is she’s undermining the culture that is needed to keep teams focused and engaged. Without their buy-in, any business strategy will falter.
Ultimately, poor communication from a leader can lead to a team that feels overwhelmed, under-appreciated, confused – and possibly looking for another job. “The problem isn’t email,” Simon says. “It’s how we use it.”
So if leaders truly want to amend their bad habits and help their teams function at their best, Simon suggests they need to:
Simon says it’s not always easy for leaders to break some of these habits. Part of the reason is because a full email inbox often helps them feel more important – even though they complain endlessly about it.
But Simon says the message to leaders is simple if they want to stop overwhelming their teams with poor communication: “It’s time to call bulls**t,” he says. “It’s time to figure out what doesn’t make sense.”