Communication is one of those things every leadership coach will talk about. So let's agree that it is important. Often we tend to view communication as a "formal" process and forget that communication with our team is nuanced and something that happens all the time. What we don't say is as much a form of communication as what we do say. Around this truth one young leader comes to mind.
The group that I had been training had been working on my process for somewhere around 9 months. In that time, I had trained leaders who had moved up and I was in the process of working with new leaders. While they were familiar with the program they were new to leading. It was in that setting that I encountered "Jack."
Jack was popular with the crews and had been with the company for some time. He had decided that he was working his way up to the crew leadership level and had just arrived at his goal. He was smart, got along well, was a quick learner and had all the tools to truly become a fine crew leader.
So it was with some surprise that one day I found him wanting to speak to me "off site." He was miserable. He was wrestling with anger and resentment toward his crew and did not know what to do about it. It was so bad that he was considering moving back to his old position.
The problem was he had trained under a very gifted leader which was good. But - he had his own ideas about how he wanted things done that did not align with how his mentor had worked with the crew - which was bad. He explained that he tried to get his crew to do things his way but this was typically right in the middle of operations and so his suggestions were met with indifference or hostility. He was on the verge of exploding.
I asked him a series of questions about the issue and tried to determine why this high performing crew were not responding to him the way he expected. In the course of the conversation he finally admitted that he had never really communicated his expectations for process and communication to his crew. He figured he could just tell them when things were happening. Normally that would not be an issue but this type of operational activity did not lend itself well to that approach.
I asked him if he was clear about what he wanted and why and he said he was. My suggestion to him was to sit his team down during the next pre-shift meeting and lay out his wishes for process and communication. He had moved from being a friend to a leader and this aspect of leadership didn't feel natural to him. I shared with him that all new leaders tend to wrestle with this at first. However, as the leader, you not only have a right to communicate your expectations you have a responsibility to make sure everyone knows them.
The next time we met he was all smiles. He even joked about why he hadn't thought about doing that in the first place. The moral of the story is "don't be afraid to communicate your expectations." Even companies that have been around for a while will get new leaders who are going to want to approach things a little differently - put their own brand on the team so to speak. Don't be afraid to communicate those things. Performance Leadership - Think About It!