Communication seems like such an easy thing. You know exactly what you mean to say, and the message is crystal clear in your mind. So, what happens when that message gets into open air?
When I was a kid, I remember watching Quickdraw McGraw, a goofy cartoon character (a horse, I think) with a Donkey as a sidekick. Almost every episode, the sidekick would have an idea, or see a problem that QuickDraw had missed. When the sidekick tried to alert QuickDraw, he would reply with “I’ll do the thin(k)ing around here, and don’t you forget it!” Maybe you have heard (or worse yet, said) those words in a business environment. What a waste, and a dangerous situation. Managers who don’t require employee feedback (not just allow, tolerate or patronize it) are guilty of wasting company money in the worst way. There are many stories of employees on factory lines (doing repetitive tasks all day) developing innovations to benefit the overall operation. Wisdom is where you find it, and its value is not diminished based on where it comes from.
I define self-awareness as the knowledge of one’s own strengths, weaknesses and impact others. Some management gurus take this concept to a mystical extreme. I don’t claim guru status, and I don’t think that mystical methods are necessary to develop leadership skills. I do, however, support self-awareness (my definition) as a key factor in a manager’s success and effectiveness.
Super Bowl XLVII featured a classic matchup between two great teams, led by two great coaches. The Harbaugh brothers have more in common than their family ancestry, which is pretty impressive on its own. A similarity that impressed me is that both coaches made tough, unconventional decisions that made a great difference in their team’s performance. Each leader courageously owned his decision, not knowing with certainty that the outcome would be positive. Eventually, the rest of the world saw what these leaders saw, and acknowledged the wisdom of the decisions.
Some business leaders never see the business case for diversity in action. That is a shame, primarily because those leaders may never achieve their full potential. I believe that a business leader must understand the business case for diversity as it applies to his/her own unique business situation. It is something that you can’t get from a magazine or a case study; it comes from true introspection, and analysis of facts and beliefs that may take you through some uncomfortable places. I know this because I have done that work, and because I revisit it from time to time.
Mistakes are a part of life for managers and employees (and every other human on the planet). Of course, mistakes usually result in something that needs to be fixed, which means rework, lost productivity, damaged relationships, and other outcomes that cost money. Since your Company is paying for the mistake anyway, why not get your money’s worth out of it? The best managers use employee mistakes to teach and develop their employees. To think about mistakes solely in terms of the inconvenience and cost incurred is like throwing money away.
Congratulations; you’re promoted. You got a new title, maybe more money, a few perks (does anyone still get those?) and definitely more responsibility. Hopefully, your job description outlines what you are responsible for. Good job descriptions may describe your responsibility for planned communications, but most will not talk about managing the unintentional communications.