Unclear Equals Unkind

I don’t understand my employees! It’s just hard to find good people these days.

I realize that recruiting and hiring good team members is challenging and often difficult. I recommend that you invest attention and time in learning what it takes to get the right people.

However, there is something else you need to create a winning team. It is clear communication. Managers, leaders, and employees often fail to communicate clearly.  All of us have been conditioned to couch our communication with social pleasing which obscures and blurs the true message. Using niceness as the excuse, people don’t say what they mean. In that lack of clarity, assumptions and expectations are created with no true agreement. For example, consider the following scenario:

You know that next week is going to be extremely busy. As the manager, you need all hands on-deck. Based on the projected workload, there will likely be some long days. In the past, when overtime has been required, the grumbling starts, and morale drops. You gather the troops, and with a very nice smile and soft tone of voice, you make an appeal:

“Next week is going to be quite busy, and I would appreciate it if people would step up, try to be a little more focused, and if anyone is willing to work some extra hours to help out, it would be appreciated. I’m feel bad when this happens and expect some of you will step up and help out.”

That, my friend, is lousy communication. At best it causes a few people to try a little harder out of guilt, but will likely produce a minimal response. What will occur is you will be disappointed and resent your team for not coming through. The fruit of unclear communication is guilt, expectations, assumptions, frustrations, and resentment. Unclear equals unkind.  There is a better way.

Consider this approach instead:

     “I appreciate all of you and your hard work. Next week is going to be quite busy, and I know this team is up for the challenge. Here’s what’s going to happen. After this meeting, I will be speaking with each of you to set up a modified schedule next week including overtime. If we handle things efficiently, we may not have to work over every day, but you need to plan to be here an extra two hours each day if needed. I understand that some of you may be able to come in early, and some may be able to stay late, so I will work with each of you to work out the specifics. I really appreciate our team. and know we will rise to meet this challenge”

This communication is followed by meeting with each team member to work out a clear agreement for their personal schedule for the week. No expectations. No assumptions. No wishing. Rather a clear agreement with each person for a specific response. That is clear, and that is kind.

Need some help in this area?  I help leaders and managers learn how to communicate! Call me. Is that clear?

-Dave Beam

Dave Beam has been helping businesses for the last 25 years.  He is owner and operator of a successful ActionCOACH Business Coaching franchise, and has a passion to assist business leaders create amazing outcomes.  He has coached over 300 businesses and corporations over the last thirteen years.

You can learn more about Coach Dave Beam on his website:


Author: Jeff Fannin