“Don’t talk. What you are thunders so loudly above what you say that I cannot hear you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
We often worry about communicating with our teams about goals, strategies, and even tactics. We spend an inordinate amount of time wordsmithing memos and emails about the next big project to ensure that we have the appropriate buzzwords and are also politically correct. Don’t get me wrong, I think clear and concise communication is the single most important element of success BUT it does not and cannot take the place of ACTION (which I define as activity directed towards a goal).
Honestly, it is much easier to show others what you value instead of telling them. In fact, if you really want to know what someone values, you only need look at their calendar and checkbook (think about that one for a minute). I am the president/coo of a small business and I purposely used lower case letters in the title because the title (while necessary) is not reflective of what I do. My role is really “hurdle remover” for the 20 or so folks on the team who actually take care of our patients. In fact, my goal is to ensure no one really knows what I do because all of my work is directed toward ensuring their work goes smoothly. So today, an opportunity came up to show what I value in our business. Since you have not been privy to our exceptionally well written internal communications these past 2 years (some self-deprecating humor never hurts), I will tell you that my main focus is ensuring that we provide an exceptional patient experience.
With this in mind, I had been copied on an email yesterday that outlined an issue one of our patients was experiencing. They needed a hearing aid repaired due to a series of unfortunate events. Through some mis-communication, an issue had arisen…they were leaving town for 10 days next week (on Tuesday) and the hearing aid was not going to be back till Monday and the person in that office that could assist was not in Monday. I was discussing with our front office staff and it was clear to me that we needed to ensure that our patient concern was addressed. Theoretically, everything should be fine as the repaired aid would be re-set to the patient’s setting and all would be well. Even if that was the case, the patient would feel much better is there were someone there to assure this was the case since they were going to be leaving town and needed the aids so they could enjoy their trip. All it took was an email and a phone call and now we have one of our other team members (from another office) coming over to meet with this patient between appointments at their office on Monday.
This was not a complicated issue and I am glad that I was there to facilitate the process as I just started the ball rolling and everybody else took it from there. My hope is that those involved will understand the “why” of this situation and not worry about the “how”. I realize Nietzsche was not speaking about businesses but he was on point when he said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Clear goals really to simplify things because it allows us to make very quick decisions about situations and that is a tremendous advantage given how quickly things change.
As leaders, we should strive to:
- Provide clear organizational goals (hint…revenue is not a goal is a result of achieving a goal…)
- Show the team in practical terms how these goals are accomplished (at both the strategic and tactical levels)
- Refer back to the goals often and change them if necessary
- Tie rewards to the accomplishment of these goals
I know it doesn’t sound complicated but as I am fond of saying, “it is simple, just not easy”