What You See is What You Hear
The key element of all successful businesses is quality communication. Communication actually needs to be more than just “quality”; it needs to be open, frank, concise, succinct, respectful and illuminating. It needs to be so honest that it is even scary at times. So many missteps in business come from a lack of clearly understanding the current situation, the customer’s position, an employee’s needs or the nature of a dispute. So many of these challenges are easier to address than we realize if they are clearly understood by all parties involved.
If the root of the problem is so simple, why does it continue to be such a pain in the ass? Well, there are more than a few reasons for this and we will address some of them here in no particular order of importance.
Questions & Answers
The first is a failure to ask. A well thought-out question can be a key that unlocks a myriad of doors. One of the amazing things about questions is they are rarely offensive, unlike statements of fact that are often a cause for debate. Questions offer people an opportunity to give their opinion in a safe atmosphere, which leads to a higher level of honesty. That honesty results in even greater understanding.
Think about your employees for a moment. Imagine a discussion in which you asked them for their opinion on a critical decision you are about to make. Two things will surprise you. One will be the employee’s willingness to give you input. In fact, they will most likely be thrilled you asked. The second will be the level of insight your employees possess. Too often we miss the opportunity to glean information from those who are right beside us. Remember, these are the folks who are in the trenches fighting beside you every day. They may have just the right bit of information that completes the puzzle. Also, make it a habit to listen to those closest to you regarding the thoughts and feelings of other employees.