How to Fix the #1 Problem in Your Organization for less than $100
If you are open to the idea of fixing the biggest issue inside of your organization, I would like to offer you this challenge. Make the commitment to “NEVER put an expectation on someone, even your own self from this moment on without making it VISUAL first.” Does this intimidate you? Are you thinking what a lot of people do when I offer them this challenge? That “it would be a waste of time to make EVERYTHING visual first?” Let me assure you that when it is not VISUAL, it is not IMPORTANT, and so not making it visual means you already are wasting your time and Energy, and you're also wasting theirs!
I see this problem everywhere that I go. It exists in our work, with our friends and even in our own families. In my previous article, “Their failure to understand starts with you” I shared the stark difference between managing expectations and setting expectations. Managing expectations always results in poor communication, and this is why we see good people being let go, countries at war with each other and families in turmoil. Instead of searching for better ways to communicate, we search for “better communicators”, which is insanity. The amount of time and money that goes into managing expectations these days is mind-blowing! Author and Communication Coach Debra Hamilton asserted in her article the “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” that even for a company of 100 employees, miscommunication can cost them $400,000 or more per year. And her article was written almost 10 years ago! Take a moment to think about your organization and imagine how many lost sales, lost customers, lost employees and lost revenue occurred in the past 12 months just because of poor communication. Let that sink in for a moment!
The reason for this loss is because we all see the same things differently, and we all translate what we see in different ways. This is what makes each one of us unique as well as extremely good at problem solving. When we see a problem and believe that we know how to solve it we instinctively propose our solution, often with the expectation that others should immediately understand us. And when we place someone in a role where they are expected to resolve issues that we already know how to fix, we often find ourselves watching over their shoulder out of fear of them choosing the wrong solution. Even though our intention is often to help resolve the issue, we instead find ourselves re-explaining or arguing with others what we think should be done and often end up with a less than desired outcome. This instinct we all have to “fix” things and expect others to accept it a human trait. Yet we are often haunted by the desire to fix it as soon as we believe possible, and often at the expense of our relationships with others. This habit is what gets in the way of what we really desire, which is effective communication. And it is exactly what creates the fear, frustration and anger that results in lack of engagement and accountability.
For organizations such as businesses or non-profit, the channels of communication can be extremely hard to manage. There is no one in this planet that could say that they are the perfect communicator, at least no one who is being honest with themselves! If you are NOT communicating your expectations visually to those you depend on, you are going to be managing your expectations until they fail, or until you have to “make it happen” yourself. And if you are accepting tasks from others without being able to first see what is expected of you, then you will not meet their expectations, at least not effectively. Recognizing that communication is the main reason why relationships fail both personally and professionally is a big step for some people. But once this is accepted, anyone can begin the journey of creating stronger and more effective communication for themselves and for others. When you clearly define each person's roles, and then incorporate a visual system of expectations and goals, the channels are opened up and people are free to see what you want but from their point of view. ALL information must be visual and THEN communicated to the people that you serve. Making it visual means no more verbal diarrhea!!!
So here is how to save you and your team a substantial amount of time, energy and money...
What happens next is nothing short of amazing! As you take them through your board, your people will begin to ask questions in order to clarify what they see. They will also seek direction from you on things like who, what, when, where and how. And in this moment is when you will see them engage. They will start to help you by offering their help to resolve what they see. They will seek your approval to handle certain items that they feel they can resolve or manage, and they will be open to your suggestions and input. Be open to this, as it is a great way to delegate a lot of items and challenge your people to engage in activities that you otherwise felt you have to manage.
As they offer to take items from you, consider duplicating this exercise for each of your people. Buying each one of them their own whiteboard will allow them to “transfer” your items to their board. The goal would eventually be that each leader from the bottom of the pyramid up would have their own whiteboard to communicate in the same way that you do. This then allows them to show their people what needs to be done. You will also want to transfer any of their needs to your board. It also allows you at any time to go and see what they have on their mind, as well as maintain a visual on what’s expected of you. This creates an environment of support and accountability and the result is a culture that embraces visual communication. Toyota calls this “Glass Wall Management” and it is a core reason for their continued success in creating one of the world’s strongest Cultures.
Please leave your comments below and let me know how you have utilized this thinking. And know in return that I am always available to help you with your implementation!
Kaizen Initiatives Inc.