I was talking to Jan this week, and the subject of holidays came up. We both love France but I was saying to her how sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing being in France (or Spain or anywhere else) and watching how tourists speak to the locals.
I don’t know if you have experienced this – but sometimes tourists shout. They shout at the locals and speak really slowly – as if that will help the locals to understand their English. Well, speaking slowly might help if the locals have a little bit of English, but I fail to see how shouting helps anything.
It’s not that they are deaf, it’s that they don’t understand you.
And I suddenly thought – ‘oh my – that’s what people sometimes do in leadership.”
It can be frustrating can’t it? If people don’t understand you when it is perfectly clear and obvious to YOU what you are trying to say. And I wonder if you, like me, have seen bosses literally react to that by shouting the same instructions, in a kind of “are you stupid?” kind of way. For example.….
Staff member, “How do I print this information on my screen?”
Boss (sigh) “hit alt and F12”
Staff member, “sorry, what?”
Boss (shouting) “HIT ALT AND F12”
That really isn’t going to help now, is it? If the staff member doesn’t know what or where the ALT tab or the F12 button are then shouting it isn’t going to mean they suddenly DO know.
But, here’s the thing, it isn’t just about shouting. It can be metaphorical shouting. The point is if you keep on doing what you have always done, assuming that if you just repeat it often enough then people will have a magical moment of realisation, then you are probably living in a dream world. So, what do you do instead?
Well, for a start, you need to ask more questions. Until you understand your team members in THEIR own language then you can’t possibly answer or instruct them in a way that will make sense to you and get the desired outcome.
Let me give you an example. A client of ours runs a business with remote teams. He was getting a little frustrated by slowness on certain tasks, until he sat down with his senior team manager leader and also did some research to better understand what was going on.
What he learned was 2 things. Firstly – when he said on a Monday – “this needs doing fairly quickly” – the team felt that was OK if it was finished by Friday – so HE needed to be more specific about time frames and specify exactly when he wanted it back for. Secondly, the make up of the team was that they needed to feel more appreciated and really went out of their way when they felt individually noticed and appreciated for their hard work.
Everyone needs this by the way, but some people need it more than others.
The best approach here was the feedback sandwich. In brief:- Here is what you did well. Here is what you could do better. I really appreciate you and how is everything with you anyway?
Implementing these 2 things meant my client could stop shouting (or in his case – repeating himself loudly with a hint of annoyance) and start communicating in a way that got him and his team better results.
So – if you want to stop shouting and get more done instead, try asking more questions before flipping off a quick reply using the same old same old ! If something doesn’t work, stop, ask questions, and try something else.
And if you need any help with that – drop me an email to [email protected]
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Julie Hutchison is co-Director with Jan Sargent of Transforming Performance, a consultancy which provides businesses with expert support in Leadership Coaching, Team Development and Performance Coaching, Executive Coaching, Mentoring, Training and Behavioural Profiling and help in getting the best from you and your people. If you’d like to have a chat and a coffee to discuss how we can help you, we’d love to talk. Call us on:
01722 484155 or 07947 823842