Too many times, the office “scene” becomes littered with management overreach, petty arguments, overworked and underappreciated employees, and little empathy.
Does this sound like a sure-fire way to make “the machine” work effectively? No.
Breakdowns occur on an emotional level through language being used between people. For instance, if all you hear is “you did this-and-this wrong, so fix it,” then more than likely you’re going to clean up that resume’ and start sending that sucker out.
I believe there is a better way to write these horrible wrongs with cleaner and clearer communication. Here are three ways to clean it up:
First, write and speak respectfully. This is not too hard to do. Corporate language can be bland and managers who send out missives to the masses aren’t great wordsmiths. If they were, then they’d understand that their words carry weight. Disrespecting or ignoring people’s claims and pleas can be done through writing emails or messages as if there is nothing wrong. Anyone who speaks out against “the machine” will usually find their way out the door. Writing and speaking respectfully works both ways. In business, though, managers who can drop their egos and become humble leaders will cultivate a healthier workplace and employees. Consider this along the lines of following the sage adage of doing unto others what you would want done unto you. Yep, The Golden Rule. It works in business as well as life.
Second, know your audience. It sounds like something marketers are told and read over and over again. Leaders and managers fully know what types of people are in their companies. If they don’t, then they can head on over to HR and ask for a little help. Leaders have a great opportunity to right wrongs through actually having a conversation with employees. That means getting out of the golden office chair (even if it’s not golden or in a corner office) and making an effort to express appreciation personally toward each employee. In this international world of work these days, this might be an impossible dream. Technology, though, can tie up those loose ends. Use Skype or Zoom or some other software and set up an appointment. You can get to know your employees a whole lot better in this way. The excuse of “I’m too busy” means that you just don’t want to do the dirty work of cleaning up any communication breakdowns in your organization. Telling yourself that “there are none” when people leave your organization like it was on fire should give you plenty of reason to wake up and get busy.
Third, use your words wisely. Don’t shirk your responsibility to converse with employees cleanly and clearly. Too many leaders and managers get this wrong. By the way, if you are operating from an old-school communication template circa 1980 then that bad boy needs to go into the trash can. We’ve advanced (at least I believe we have in some places) beyond the yelling and screaming at employees to “shape them up” as a way of managing and leading. Managers who still use this type of communication and refuse to change need to be fired immediately. They need to go and anyone who is supporting this style of management needs to be fired, too. Of course, a lot of corporations are just looking at their bottom lines and budgets. If someone meets the bottom line, no matter how they speak or write, then all is well. The words you use are remembered by those employees every day they interact with work. They remember the getting called into the closed-door meetings over and over again. Closed-door meetings are not effective ways to communicate through helpful words. Corporations that believe having three or more closed-door meetings per day for any reason is effective needs to change their management style immediately. The words used in those meetings will not help anyone. There is no support there at all. It’s basically just a way for managers to record something on their “I’ve-done-this” checklist. Wise words are never said in management-led closed-door meetings. Wise words of counsel come from leaders who are in touch with their own faults. Check yourself before you speak. Mistakes are made and we are all human. Leaders and managers – two different forms of business styles – will do well to clean up their communication styles.
The time has come for businesses and corporations to stop playing fast and loose with their words. A well-crafted email or message to employees should have a depth of compassion and empathy in it. Even if it involves a simple few paragraphs of information, is it too much to ask that a manager or leader close that message with a kind word?
Treating people as human beings doesn’t end when you enter the office or start working in your business. It goes far beyond that realm. Stop having communication breakdowns in your business today and let your employees actually feel good about their work. You just might find things changing for the better.