Tag Archives: Job satisfaction

Leadership and Communication: The Details Matter

One of the challenges of leadership and, in fact, communication in general, is understanding the level of detail required relative to each situation.

Lead In, Lead On and CoachStation: Communication

Depending on the need, it can be necessary to discuss in-depth the content for a piece of work; what role someone else is to play in the task; seek input into potential solutions and other relevant details. Knowing when this detail is going to add value and not detract from the message or subsequent actions can be the difference between a successful outcome or not. One of the risks is that you as the leader, either do not seek enough input from others and/or confuse the situation as a result of too much information.

I was recently involved in a project that had many layers to it. There were various roles, as you would expect, however the Project Manager (PM) and Project Sponsor were unable to come to grips with their roles to achieve a successful outcome. The PM worked at an ‘arms-length’ with both critical project team members and contributors and the Sponsor was also quite removed as a result. The decision-making process was slow at best and often times non-existent. This flowed into other areas of the project including the testing team and vendor support. Ultimately the project missed several important deadlines over many months and was delayed.

On occasion, it is important to note when it comes to communication and an appropriate level of detail and engagement, less is more!

Without oversimplifying what was a complex project, much of this could have been resolved through clearer communication channels, better-defined roles and improved structure. All of this would have been improved through greater clarity regarding the detail at the beginning of and at various stages of the project. Being able to answer key questions and revisiting them throughout the project can assist in reducing the risk and meet the milestones along the way.

  • What role does each person play?
  • How are the stakeholders to be involved and kept up to date?
  • Has each expert been engaged at the right level and time?
  • Have the end-users and SME’s been involved?
  • How much jurisdiction does the PM have?
  • Who are the key vendor contacts?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for keeping the project on track?
  • What is the role of the Steering Committee and Working Group?

At face value the answer to these questions may seem relatively simple. In reality, the issues that occurred in this project are quite common throughout most organisations in my experience. Leading through a major project, with the right format and level of detail understood by all involved, is difficult. In fact, it can be quite daunting!

Much of this confusion, fear and doubt can be overcome by seeking clarity and involving the project team at the right level. Overlapping and ill-defined roles; political maneuvering; ineffective leadership; poor communication; poor role selection; limited capability of key personnel in key roles; and a loose project plan are all contributors to a reduced outcome. Clarity in tasks, a communication plan/strategy and ultimately a reduction of these issues overall provides a much stronger baseline to work from and minimises the risk of project over-runs and missed deadlines. Understanding the necessary details and seeking clarity early in the project is key. Maintaining an appropriate level of clarity and direction throughout the project timeline also matters.

In leadership generally, the same inputs and questions listed above can be applied to many situations and team cultures. Too much or too little detail and/or a resultant lack of clarity and understanding for each role, position and person within your team is unlikely to add value to meeting goals and objectives. The risk of employee dissatisfaction, turnover and a lack of engagement is also often the result. Enabling your team to provide input into their roles and that of their broader team is critical. As the leader, ensure that clarity exists to the most appropriate degree possible. This does not remove all risk, however is a key piece of the leadership puzzle and as in the example detailed, the alternative can be a very messy and expensive option otherwise.

2 Comments

Filed under Leadership, Strategy

Success and Influence

You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long ~Boris Yeltsin

This quote can be interpreted in many ways. For me, it refers to progress and how we measure our own success.

How we get ‘there’ is as important, if not more so, than the end result.

How do you measure success and progress? Achieving ‘Success’ and career progression through aggression, politicised behaviour, putting self-first and stepping on others to reach great heights, has a limited life expectancy. I have found the most satisfying and rewarding outcomes mostly derive from interactions with others, along with an ability and willingness to give more than take.

The opportunities to succeed often come from your efforts to support as many people as you can through:

  • Engaging thought and conversation
  • Seeking counsel and being willing to act as counsel
  • Listening genuinely with no bias
  • Understanding your own values and how they align with others

Affirming success as a direct outcome of your influence with and through others is not only more gratifying, but is of greater benefit to all. How you are judged by others depends on many things, including how you treat people and how you make them feel. Especially those who matter most to you.

Consider the key relationships in your life and how they have supported you and whether you have been supportive of them achieving their own dreams and desires. Have you reinforced and backed in an encouraging way?

Are you genuinely comfortable in that position or are you wondering how long will it be before you have to move on – or, to put it another way, what is your throne made from?

4 Comments

Filed under Motivation, Values

Expectation Setting – Who Cares?

Feeling The Pressure Of Long Hours...Are Expectations Clear?!!

Does an employee have the right to clear expectations?

Or, is it the employee’s responsibility to ask if they are unclear about any aspect of their role. As leader’s should we just expect that the clarity and details will come in time – it’s not like there is an expectation of high performance on day 1..or day 10..or day…? Or, is there never an expectation of high performance? There should be!

Earlier this week I read a blog on the Leaders Beacon website (thanks Colleen Sharen) providing insight into expectation setting. It got me thinking. How well do we as leaders really set clear expectations? Do we induct our new employees effectively? Is this even on the radar of leaders or central to business planning and strategy? Do we consider business requirements, measurement and regularly review these aspects for our longer-tenured team member’s? Fair questions for leaders…not so great a reality.

Expectation setting is more than providing a broad brush-stroke of requirements as highlighted in a position description document. It is also not simply a high-level group of role requirements that form part of the probation period, if there is one. It goes well beyond that and has a direct correlation to employee engagement. It is defining a reality for that employee – with depth and meaning – based on the information included within but not exclusively from work documents, policies and position descriptions. Yet, it is more than that.

Every individual has different expectations of themselves, their leader and the employer. Each team member brings different skills, values, biases, desires and other personal traits to their role. It is the leaders job to understand the employee well enough to blend business needs with personal needs. This helps to build strong relationships, opportunity to align values and remove uncertainty that often comes from unexplained or misunderstood diversity between employees.

Clarity in expectations is not only important for each employee but clearly of benefit to the employer/business. The risk is that if expectations are not clearly set and understood, performance will suffer, morale of this employee and possibly others around them may decrease and certainly, the ability to ‘master’ their role is diminished. It is a lose-lose situation and yet not all that rare an occurrence.

Reduced discretionary effort and a limited willingness to engage beyond the bare minimum are also potential risks. Additional pressure is often felt by the employee and can be demonstrated through behaviours such as increased hours in the workplace, withdrawing from the team, irritability, sullen attitudes and other negative outcomes.

Setting each team member up for success starts before their first day. We all make judgments and these start during the recruitment and interview process – for both the employer and the potential employee. Hopefully, you have set a good standard of communication and enhanced the image of your business throughout the recruitment process. This high standard certainly must be consistently delivered from day one of employment, assisting to build employee engagement, which is of value to any leader as noted below.

  • In world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57:1.
  • In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83:1.

Actively disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process…estimates this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone. Beyond the significant differences engaged workgroups show in productivity, profitability, safety incidents, and absenteeism versus disengaged workgroups, we have proven that engaged organizations have 3.9 times the earnings per share (EPS) growth rate compared to organizations with lower engagement in their same industry. (1)

In any role, the employee has the right to expect a clear understanding of what is required of them. Every task, function, skillset, policy and other related expectations should be provided early in his or her tenure. This set of expectations should then form part of the regular rhythm of coaching, discussions and review.

It is never fair employment strategy nor smart leadership to expect that an employee will ‘pick up’ all they need to perform their role to a standard if that standard is never clearly established.

This includes the need to also check in and ensure clarity (for both parties), along with a willingness and ability to meet the expectations now or in the future with the proper support, development and training.

If we don’t, then we are breeding and encouraging mediocrity in our leadership standards, within our team cultures and potentially setting the bar low before your business has had a chance to excel.

Expectation setting – who cares? You should!

4 Comments

Filed under Leadership, People Development