“I don't know” and other things that cost to say.
13 min read
The opinions expressed by employees are personal.
In more ways than one, the head of an organization establishes the style of # Communication that is lived in a company. Communication creates culture (for better or worse), and the way in which a boss communicates with his team determines the power, loyalty and creativity with which they will solve the challenges they face together.
The boss's job – in the words of Darlene Price, author of the book – is to put the right people in the right places … and allow them success.
There is a long conversation between the leader and his team. In the end, it is not enough for the boss to indicate a direction and give orders (both, necessary), but, if he wants to achieve success in his company, he must learn to develop a human relationship that favors the growth of all those involved.
That is why it has been said, with perfect reason, that employees do not renounce companies, but rather renounce their bad bosses. Not always because of bad intention, but perhaps due to lack of knowledge, many directors opt for direct, aggressive and authoritative communication, thinking that they demonstrate power and control. These bosses will soon be alone and in an inefficient company. There is a different way to connect. Therefore, use these phrases every day in your company to generate a culture of open and efficient communication. Take note!
1. “How are your children?”
There are those who believe that professional relationships should be maintained like this: professionals. It is a big mistake.
Every person you cross into your day to day has in itself an entire universe; complex dimensions, problems and opinions. People are not machines or computers that we can turn on when we need them … and turn off when we leave the office. A good leader knows the people with whom he works directly and indirectly, and knows how to ask directed (and prudent) questions to connect with the dimensions of the other.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: do you know by heart the name of the spouse and the children of your immediate collaborators? Get used to asking how are you? How are your kids? How is your dad doing? And take a few minutes before starting the work session.
We listen to those we trust; and we trust those who know us and let us know them. These “lost” minutes will be, rather, a great investment.
2. “What do you think of this?”
Communication at work is, as we said above, a long conversation. The conversations, of course, are bidirectional. It is not enough for the boss to always know what to do, how to do it and give orders to be followed without blinking. Even in the middle of the battle, good generals know how to ask for advice and opinion because they know we can all make mistakes.
Before implementing a new directive or starting a project, call your confidence to those who can contribute something or are involved. After presenting your idea, ask with absolute candor “What do you think of this?” If the environment is safe and trustworthy, your collaborators can join immediately, make some improvements or even say that your project doesn't like them! The last thing you want in an organization that wants to grow or innovate is to have a series of sheep saying yes to anything you put on the table.
Not only will you have better results, but you will generate a trust and camaraderie bank that will sustain present and future projects. Trust is paid with confidence and loyalty.
And speaking of that …
3. “Thank you for the bad news!”
Do you know a large and inefficient organization? Then it is almost certain that at the head you will find a boss who does not know how to receive bad news.
All organizations have good and bad days; good and bad quarters; Successful and failed projects. In fact, it is the best companies in the world that have the highest – yes, GREAT – percentage of failed projects! Innovation always implies a risk. Google tries dozens of new products every month; and only a few come to see the light. Says Larry Page, Google founder “Fail a lot is the fastest way to success.”
Short-sighted bosses do not want to hear bad news, or react violently when someone tells them that things are going wrong. As a result, their collaborators always choose to say that “everything is going well, perfect, without problems …”, causing a serious communication failure that can end the company.
So don't kill the messenger! Bad news can be the best news, if received on time.
4. “We achieved this thanks to Pepe”
You have to say a lot “thank you”. One of the most constant complaints among young employees is that they do not feel appreciated at work. Saying “thank you” is free, fast, simple and spectacularly effective in achieving well-being and loyalty.
We can go one step further, because there is a way to multiply the power of “thank you”; and this is doing it in public, in front of other colleagues or clients. Not only does it raise the relational share of gratitude, but it raises the prestige coefficient of the recognized person. This, in the long run, is more important than salary or quarterly bonuses.
So at your next meeting, be sure to congratulate someone in public. It is like a magic wand.
5. “What a good idea! Tell me more”
You are boss. You are a director. I get it. You are a busy guy. In addition, you already spent three afternoons planning each project of the year. As if that were not enough, you are late for a meal. And at this moment Pepe comes to tell you that this or that has occurred to him. He even brings a folder in his hand. God free us!
The “open-door“ policy ”has long ceased to be enough. Modern directors like Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group) and Tony Hsieh (Founder of Zappos) prefer to take the lead and practice what some call “Managing by Wandering Around” (directing out for a walk), which is exactly what it sounds like : leave their offices (daily) to walk around the company, greeting people, asking how they are doing and allowing comments and novel ideas. They do not do it to terrify their employees (There comes the boss, watch out!), But to open the ears to problems, solutions and occurrences.
“It is already decided”, “We have always done so”, “I have no time now” are three phrases that will destroy innovation and creativity in a short time. When Pepe comes with his idea and his folder, listen to him and encourage him to try. If you don't have time, then quote it soon and spend as much time as necessary; not as a distraction, but as a possible streak of business and growth.
And in passing, it strengthens the relationship, satisfaction and loyalty in José. Open your door, go for a walk, have fun and get ready to listen to everything.
6. “Let's solve it together. Ideas?”
Sometimes things go wrong. Many nearsighted leaders will spend hours and days and years finding guilty; but this is usually a gigantic waste of time, especially in the middle of the problem. When a problem or crisis bursts in, they are not guilty: solutions and responsible are sought.
If at midnight you wake up in your house and perceive a strong smell of smoke (it catches fire!) You will not start to investigate who it was, or whose fault it was. You have to take immediate action and order those who can help: not to take the children out; another to turn off the source; another to call emergencies. Get out of the problem as a team, as a team, proactively and strategically. There will be time to find the culprit.
It is the unequivocal signal of a mediocre boss to look guilty to a problem, because it is an instinctive (and cowardly) way to cover his back with a scapegoat.
Asking for ideas about a problem does not make you less wise or powerful. On the contrary, showing vulnerability and disposition will strengthen your moral authority among your collaborators, laying the foundations for a lasting relationship.
7. “We were wrong. How do we correct it? ”
Of course, we all make mistakes from time to time, and it is very good for us to have a person who can correct us. This task usually falls on the boss's backs; that will do so badly to avoid it as to scold too severely.
Learning to correct with kindness is one of the most difficult things; and also one of those that create greater unity in the team. If a collaborator of yours has made a mistake, let him know that you have noticed, and look for a solution soon; without using fear or threat but, on the contrary, leveraged on trust and certainty.
Once corrected, the subject will not be touched again or brought up when it is convenient for you. Remember that it is not – never is – “you vs. your employees ”, but“ you and your employees ”, as it is a family, allowing the exit or dismissal only as a last resort, when all the others have been exhausted.
8. “I don't know”
The two most difficult words to pronounce in the Spanish language are not “I love you,” “I'm sorry,” or “please,” but the Kryptonite of many leaders: “I don't know.”
As a leader, you have constant pressure to maintain the appearance of technical authority: let everyone know that you know what to do, how to do it and when to do it. After all, that's why you're the boss, aren't you?
In his book, Daniel Coyle states that the three fundamental elements to achieve a good culture in the company are Safety, Purpose and Vulnerability. People do not follow “perfect bosses” but “human bosses”, with failures and errors, just like them.
If you do not know say, simply “I do not know, but I promise to investigate”, and if you feel that there is more, keep looking for courses and spaces where you can learn one of the five hundred thousand things you do not know. It is not necessary for blofees until your ears bleed: ask, investigate and admit your limits. Then break them.
9. “This meeting ends at 12:30”
Mediocre bosses cause an aura of discomfort around them because they do not respect the time of their subordinates. They can call anyone, at any time, and ask for anything, because they are “the boss” and everyone should go to their whims.
Working meetings can be torture if the boss does not give them time for entry, exit and points to be defined. Everyone lives in permanent uncertainty: “Will I finish my earrings? Can I deliver to the client? Will I go to my house to eat? Can I pick up my children? I do not know! Because my boss is absolutely myopic. ”
The persistence of formal authority over moral authority is a serious organizational vice that must be removed. If an exception or crisis requires that a meeting be extended, tell them frankly, thank and acknowledge Respect the time of your collaborators! They do not work for you, but for your company, for a common purpose.
They have their own life, their own earrings, and their own dreams. And they will achieve them within your company … or outside it.
10. “We want to achieve… something impossible”
The main task of a leader is not the control of his employees. Its main tasks are three: communicate a purpose, exercise the virtue of prudence and form a team that is more than the sum of its parts.
A leader constantly reminds his team of the “why” of the organization: his vision that always consists of an impossible dream, and that keeps them always hungry and motivated.
This is one of the secrets of communication: people seek information, but they are always hungry for inspiration. Communicating the purpose (and remembering it as many times as necessary) is the most transcendent work of a leader, because it unifies and orders all the team's efforts, growing people and introducing them to meaning. People go to work at a company for the money … but they stay for the purpose.
So not only have it framed in reception: vocalize it, share it, shout it … and above all, live it. In that a big leader is distinguished from a small boss.