How often are you communicating with your colleagues and team? What's your message?
Two of my favorite questions are "What's not in your control right now?" and "What is in your control?" While there is so much that continues to be out of our control during this time, there is also a great deal in our control. One of the most important areas in our control is our communication -- what we say, how we say it, and how often we communicate with our colleagues, teams, and managers.
What we know is that during times of VUCA -- volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity -- consistent, clear messaging and communication is critical. It allows organizations and communities to stay connected, aware, and confident that those in charge are actively thinking, planning, and problem solving.
I love hearing from my clients about their leaders who are doing this well. For example, clients of mine who work at a research hospital proudly tell me about their CEO, who continues to intentionally offer regularly scheduled updates. He provides clear, upbeat messages in his authentic way -- and his communication resonates with his staff. It inspires them, comforts them, and reassures them.
Some community leaders are equally inspiring. In my community, for example, I have personally been impressed by our city's mayor, who sends out detailed need-to-know updates at least three times a week. Even if there's not much new to report, she sends her reports regularly; receiving them and knowing that she is thinking about our city and her constituents reassures me.
Take a moment and think about your communication to others during this time. What consistent messages are your colleagues hearing from you? What else might they need to hear?
The other day, I was leading a virtual workshop on building resilience for a biotech company. At one point, the leader of the team spoke up. One of her employees was talking about feeling overwhelmed and reported working until late at night to try to respond to all of the email requests she received.
"I need you to hear this," said the manager deliberately, "You have my permission to not answer every single email immediately. I give you permission to turn off your computer at night, and wait to finish in the morning." As her manager spoke these words, the employee looked visibly relieved. Clearly, that was a powerful message for her to hear.
So many times, we think that we don't need to be explicit -- we assume that our colleagues and managers must know what we're thinking. News flash: people can not read your mind. And working remotely, and not being able to read facial expressions and body language in person, makes it even harder to know what others are thinking.
If you want someone to know what you're thinking, you need to communicate. If you need to adjust your working hours so you can divvy up summer childcare with your partner, tell your manager and colleagues how you need to adjust your working time. If you want your team to enjoy their weekend, tell them that it's OK to not respond to emails until Monday. (Or, better yet, don't email them during the weekend.) If you want your colleagues to know how much you appreciate them, send them a note of appreciation.
In the next few weeks, I invite you to put attention to your communication. Be consistent, be clear, and be authentic.
Wishing you a lovely June, Deb p.s. My podcast is live! Listen in to my first episode, which is all about re-framing the Nots in your conversation to be more focused and positive.