COMMUNICATION: 3 Basic Steps Of Managing a Team (Part 1 of 3).
My friend Mark is quite a guy. He’s very down to earth, enjoys the simple things, and last year he began the process of purchasing the company he works for from his boss who is setting up to retire. He’s super impressive…and I have to admit, I’m slightly envious! Each time I see him, I have been intently asking him how the transition is going.
We were chatting recently, and he told me about the shift in his perspective that he’s experiencing. He used to call his boss for advice if he ran into an issue in the field and would be slightly unnerved if he perceived his boss as being distant. To Mark, it seemed as though his boss didn’t know what it took to get the work done in the field, since he’s in the back office all day. I’m sure this situation is ringing familiar to many of you. It seems to be a situation that we’ve all experienced.
The tables have turned, and Mark is now feeling the burden his boss must have felt.
When one of his employees calls for help from the field, it’s incredibly difficult for him not to be frustrated at the call as he’s incredibly focused on the 99.9% other things going on in the back office. Why can’t they just figure out the problem themselves? This situation brought up a great concept for me that I wanted to explore: how does a Boss retain that place as a figurehead, yet is friendly and approachable when frustrating situations arise?
As with most things, a few general guidelines can help tremendously for someone struggling with “being boss”
(This is Step 1 of 3. Stay tuned for the remaining steps! Step 1 is critical, and you cannot have step 2 and 3 without it!)
Step 1: Communicate Transparently
While communicating transparently may come naturally to some, it can be a nuisance to some. Reciprocity is key: when you share information with your employees, they will do the same for you – often tenfold. Most business owners have a very full plate. At any given time, they are likely working on multiple projects to either keep the momentum going or to grow. These are typically separated from daily work, but they are inextricably linked. Oftentimes, an employee has little to no idea what is going on in the background of a business, particularly what concerns the owner on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, this can easily lead to presumptions, biases, judgments without any basis, and then creates that awkward and very problematic divide between employer and employee.
To begin communicating transparently, start with an intentional small step. That could be something as simple as an email like this:
I just finished a bid for a 5th project this week! We haven’t done 5 bids in a week since January. Fingers crossed that we get these in the bag!
That took less than 30 seconds and was not any new content the boss had to come up with or craft to send out to the staff. But in those 30 seconds, the boss accomplished a few things:
Value – the people who received this email feel valued that the boss thought to send them a note.
Insight – Guess what? The boss does stuff too, even when the staff doesn’t see it.
Excitement – With the extra jobs bid this week, it is exciting to think about what could be coming in the future.
Unity – Now that this email is in mind, the next time a staff member sees someplace that needs their services then I bet they will tell their boss to send out a proposal!
It’s important to note that some elements of running a business can’t be shared with the organization, or are confidential. Communicating transparently doesn’t mean you share every little thing, or breach confidentiality. But it DOES mean that you share the small wins and engage with the team often.
Once you continue that pattern of communicating transparently, remember – it comes back to you tenfold.