When you think about the mix of generations in today’s workplace, the increasing level of competition, and the fast rate of change being brought on by technology – business is not getting any easier. We have all heard about the importance of culture, leadership, training and development before…it’s not a new topic yet it remains a challenge to really move the needle. Why aren’t we better at it? Why aren’t our mid-level managers better at communicating messages consistently or having difficult conversations? Why are some of our people disengaged?
One of the reasons is that the the soft skills or people skills needed to lead and influence an organization are never taught to most of us. Think about it. It’s not part of our curriculum growing up. Even with business degrees or MBAs – most of these programs focus on management theory, operations, finance or marketing, or entrepreneurship.
We are even less prepared when it comes to communicating – and this is a major problem. Because communication is really the expression of our leadership. In most organizations – the bulk of our time is spent communicating in one way or another to make decisions internally or with our valued customers. Has anyone here ever taken a class on “How to fire someone?” – or how to give someone negative feedback? How about – how to lead a meeting or conference calls? Or how to coach someone? Most of the communications colleges being taught in college focus on speeches – not everyday communication/culture building moments.
These may seem like minor frustrations, yet in reality these missed opportunities create the wrong culture. Consider the following:
- If you’re not a good listener – how can you coach a direct report effectively? You can’t.
- If you don’t have presence – the ability to command a room – how can you get people to follow you to execute on your vision? You won’t.
- And, if you aren’t very good at de-escalating conflict, then your people won’t stay.
When we don’t get these key communication moments right, we’re creating misaligned leaders and employees; disengagement, lower morale in the culture, more turnover and less retention = everything that we want to protect against so that we can create loyalty within our workplace AND with our customers. Why? Loyalty creates a return that goes right to the bottom line.
There are moments every day – pivotal conversations and dialogues that are what I call make or break …for your team, your customers and your organization as a whole. In these moments, decisions are made about staying or resigning…about engaging or checking out…about renewing that contract or sourcing for another vendor.
As leaders we need to lead by example and engage with our peers and our team members in a way that is proactive and professional. All too often, leaders and team members are going through the day reacting instead of responding, and missing key opportunities to lead, inspire and engage.
How do your people prepare for key conversations? Have you equipped them to drive your desired results? If the answer is no, it may be time to evaluate your people strategy and its impact on your business results.
The most successful companies not only realize that great culture fuels great business, they make the investment and commitment to their people through training and coaching on processes and methods to make it happen on a regular basis.
If you’d like to continue the conversation, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .