Not getting what you expect? This could be why

I handed Maya the crucial product comparison project with visions of a meticulous, organized Excel spreadsheet complete with a concise summary of findings.

 

Unfortunately, what I received was not even close to what I envisioned.

 

A week later, there we were, huddled around a table, surrounded by endless pages of raw data, most of which we couldn’t make heads or tails of. Maya tried to explain some initial observations, but there was no comprehensive report, and no succinct summary.

 

Our frustration and disappointment were palpable. Maya, because she genuinely believed she had delivered precisely what I wanted. And me, because an entire week had slipped through our fingers with almost nothing to show for it. The looming project deadline was dark cloud on our calendar.

 

So what went wrong?

 

It was a disaster, and the blame rested squarely on my shoulders. I had failed to communicate my expectations clearly, and I hadn’t bothered to ask Maya about hers. I made careless assumptions that led us down this path.

 

I assumed Maya’s past successes were an automatic guarantee of success this time-even though she had never done a project list this. I thought she instinctively knew what data to collect and how to present it. When she didn’t come to me with questions or concerns, I naively believed she was on the right track. Those assumptions, those shortcuts, cost us big time. They cost us precious time, wasted effort, and pushed the entire project perilously close to the brink of failure.

 

But there is a way out of this chaos. It’s called mutual expectations.

 

These conversations are lifelines that answer the critical questions of when, what, how, and why tasks should be done. They form the bedrock of performance and the linchpin of accountability.

 

Imagine a world where both you and your team members share a common understanding. This world is brimming with confidence because there’s a clear, agreed-upon roadmap. Desired outcomes are defined; measurements of success are crystal clear. No one is in the dark.

 

In our case, we hadn’t had those discussions. We hadn’t talked about the results we were aiming for or what the finished product should even look like. Maya was left stumbling in the dark, unaware of what specific information to gather, where to find it, how to assess its relevance, or even how to present it. The ‘why’ was absent too, which left us all adrift.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a straight forward process to ensure clear, mutual expectations. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Clearly explain the project and emphasize its importance.
  2. Define the desired outcomes and success metrics.
  3. Lay out the steps, share necessary resources, and be explicit about the project’s boundaries.
  4. Ask questions, offer support, and clarify expectations. Can they handle it? Do they have the bandwidth? What questions do they have? What do they expect from you during this project?
  5. Most importantly, ensure that everyone is on the same page and document those expectations for reference.

 

Don’t make the costly mistake of assigning a project and saying, “Let me know if you have questions.” Instead, regularly check in with your team members. Address any questions, tackle minor challenges before they become colossal obstacles.

 

These expectation conversations aren’t limited to specific projects. They are your lifeline during team meetings, one-on-ones, role changes, shifting priorities, system updates, process alterations, or policy revisions.

 

I guarantee you, when you establish mutual expectations, you will see results. Work becomes seamless, efficient, and your team? They’re infused with newfound confidence and a sense of ownership that propels them to unprecedented heights. The solution is right there – it’s mutual expectations, and it’s your ticket to success.

The Platinum Rule: Your Communication Edge

Just as I finished a demo for a new software I was researching, my phone rang. And of course, it was a sales person from said software company.

 

Naturally, I was annoyed. I wasn’t ready to make a buying decision and I definitely didn’t want to deal with pushy sales tactics. But something remarkable happened during that call.

 

In the span of 5 minutes that sales person took me from grumpy, “I’m-not-giving-you one dime buddy” to practically throwing my credit card at him. Not only did I make a purchase right then and there, I purchased the biggest, most expensive package available.

 

You may be wondering, as I did, how the heck did he do that?

 

The answer is pure genius. He spoke my language. No gimmicks, no cheesy sales pitches-just words that hit the bullseye with me-fast, results, straightforward. No time wasted on small talk, just rapid-fire, power-packed communication, just the way I like it.

 

The whole call, including me parting ways with several thousand dollars, took less than 10 minutes.

 

That is the power the Platinum Rule of Communication, your secret weapon to getting what you want by giving others what they need in communication. Get ready put the Platinum Rule of Communication to work for you.

 

The Secret

As a leader, you know your team members aren’t all the same? You already do this dance of communication, adapting to each person’s needs and preferences. But let’s spell it out.

 

If you want people to listen, buy from you, or consider your ideas, you have to speak their language. That’s the Platinum Rule of Communication – communicating with others the way they want to be communicated with. But here’s the thing, understanding their style is just the beginning.

 

Why it Matters:

A big part of the gig as leader is the ability and willingness to communicate and communicate effectively.

 

What does it mean to communicate effectively? It means people know what the heck you’re talking about. It also means you have the ability to influence others to take certain actions. It means people actually care about what you have to say.

 

There’s more to it than that.

 

Great communicators enjoy more trusting, productive relationships. It’s easier to the work done when you can communicate well.  Fun fact: effective communication can lead to a 50% increase in employee engagement. And you probably know the data- engaged employees are more productive, creative, and committed to achieving results.

 

Step 1: Understand your style and needs

Understand your style and needs. Get self-aware, recognize your preferences and how you like to communicate.

 

Consider your favorite method of communication and why you prefer it. Do you like quick, direct messages or do you prefer more details and data? Do you enjoy chatting your co-workers up or do you prefer to get down to business right away? The answers to these questions will provide a lot of insight on your personal needs.

 

Step 2: Understand and Appreciate the Style and Needs of Others

How do you recognize someone else’s communication style and needs? Well, there’s a few simple things you can do.

 

First, pay attention to what your past experience tells you. We all give off clues in every meeting, phone call, text, zoom meeting, and email. Listen. Pay attention to those clues. You’re going to need them for the next step.

 

Next, have a conversation with those you work with about their communication preferences. These simple questions will help drive that discussion:

 

  • Do you like email, phone call or text best?
  • How much detail to you like?
  • Should we get right to business or can I ask you about your dog?

 

One more thing-this step isn’t just about recognizing someone else’s style-it’s also about appreciating it.

 

Different approaches are complementary, not competing. And without different communication styles, things would fall through cracks all over the place.

 

Now, on to the most important step…

 

Step 3: Adapt to meet the other person’s needs

At this point-you understand your style. You recognize and appreciate the styles and needs of the people you work with. Now, it’s time to put the Platinum Rule into action

 

  • For the people on your team who appreciate data, give them data and don’t get cranky when they ask you about the varsity of the information or if they ask you 100 other questions.
  • For the people who craft those long detailed messages explaining how they’ve reached a conclusion-thank them! Show appreciation for their work.
  • For those who like short, direct emails or texts-oblige them whenever possible. And don’t take it personally when they sent you messages with 10 words or less.
  • For team members who want to chat you up about your camping trip and their cat, engage, within reason of course. Ask them questions about their lives and experiences.

 

The truth is-I could write an entire book on things you can do to adapt. But I’ll sum in up for you here:

 

If you know the team’s communication needs and preferences-wherever possible, do you best to accommodate those needs. It can be as simple as a warm greeting in an email or asking a team member to poke holes in an idea.

 

Use the Platinum Rule! By doing this, not only will you influence others and achieve your goals, but you’ll also show them that you genuinely care about their needs. The best part? You’ll become an influential communicator and a leader your team will trust, respect, and talk to.

Are you Unpredictable?

Have you ever experienced the rollercoaster ride of an inconsistent leader? One day, they’re all rainbows and sunshine, and the next, they’re a grumpy tyrant. If you’ve ever found yourself peeking around corners to avoid your manager or checking their mood before daring to ask a question, then you know what I’m talking about.

 

Leaders-I get it, being a leader has its challenges. And just because you’re in a leadership position doesn’t mean your impervious to moments of heightened emotion and mood changes.

 

Here’s the thing though-the unpredictability of inconsistent leadership can leave your team feeling disoriented and wary. Operating this way is a massive distraction and it diminishes the team’s confidence.

 

Inconsistency creates an environment of uncertainty and unease. Instead of focusing on their tasks, your team may find themselves strategizing ways to navigate around your shifting moods. This guessing game hinders productivity and prevents individuals from giving their best.

 

Trust and communication take a nosedive when your leadership style is all over the place.  Team members hesitate to share important information, fearing they might trigger unpredictable reactions.

 

Psychological safety, the belief that one can speak up, take risks, and express their authentic selves without fear of negative consequences or judgment, cannot exist in an environment of unpredictability.  In those environments team members are afraid to voice their concerns or ask questions. They resort to avoiding face-to-face interactions and rely on indirect communication methods, like email, to minimize the risk of encountering their unpredictable leader.

 

So, how do you get more consistent in how you lead?

  • Self-awareness: pay attention to how you’re showing up. Reflect at the end of the day on the meetings and exchanges you’ve had. What went well and why? What didn’t go well and why? Be honest about how your behavior and reactions.
  • How do people respond to you? During meetings. are team members leaning in, nodding their heads, and actively participating? Or do they seem uncomfortable, shifting in their seats, and avoiding eye contact? When they visit your office (or virtual meeting room)—do they seem relaxed or like they’re walking on eggshells?
  • Are you a problem solver? Do your team members feel comfortable coming to you with questions or problems? Or does the team feel the need to reassure you that everything is just peachy? Consistency: The Secret Sauce:
  • Consistency is the key. It’s about being the same person, day in and day out. Now, don’t get me wrong, we all have our bad days—we’re only human, after all. But your team needs to know what to expect from you. They need to feel that you’re reliable, steady, and consistent in your behavior and decisions. And most importantly, be someone your team can trust—a leader who won’t flip-flop or lose their cool at the drop of a hat.

 

Consistency in leadership is a game-changer. By being a dependable and consistent leader, you create an environment where your team feels safe to speak up, take risks, and bring their authentic selves to the table. When people feel valued and supported, they’re more likely to give their best, collaborate openly, and drive innovation. Remember, as a leader, your actions have a profound impact on the overall productivity and well-being of your team. Embrace consistency and watch your team’s confidence and performance flourish.

The Transition all Great Leaders Must Make (and how to do it!)

Let’s talk about an important-and often overlooked-aspect of leadership, especially for new leaders. The mindset transition from ME to WE.

 

When you’re a team member, you focus on yourselfyour performance, your relationship with the boss, your promotion, your ambitions, etc.  This is ME thinking.

 

As a leader though-that ME mindset just doesn’t work.

 

Why? Because your success as a leader is a direct reflection of your ability to support and enable the team to be successful. It’s not just about your own achievements anymore. When your team shines, that’s when you know you’re doing a fantastic job.  This requires WE thinking.

 

So, how do you make that shift from “me” to “we”?

 

First reflect on why you wanted to be a leader in the first place. Think about your leadership brand—those goals and aspirations you set for yourself. Are you actually living up to them? Are you talking the talk and showing those behaviors and values in your everyday actions?

 

Remember you’re a role model. Great leaders lead by example. Show the team the behavior and qualities you expect from them.

 

The power of listening. Seriously, shut up and listen—like really listen. Ditch the distractions and give the team your full attention. Seek to understand everyone’s perspectives, ideas, and concerns. Ask a ton of questions and mine for feedback. This will help you shift your focus to a more holistic view of what’s best for the team.

 

Flex those empathy muscles. Put yourself in your team members’ shoes and consider their experiences and perspectives. Understanding where they’re coming from will make you a better leader and foster stronger connections within the team.

 

Instead of solely focusing on your own ambitions and goals, set objectives that align with the team’s success. Involve your team in the goal-setting process. When everyone has a say and feels ownership, magic happens. Nothing brings a team together like a shared goal.

 

Give credit where credit is due when those team goals or milestones are met. Acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of each team member. By highlighting the collective success, you reinforce the importance of teamwork and motivate everyone to keep pushing forward.

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking—team-building activities. Some people roll their eyes at the mention of them, but trust me, they work. Team-building activities foster collaboration, trust, and a sense of shared purpose. They show you firsthand the benefits of a team-oriented approach and the value of collective success.

 

Leaders-your personal goals and ambitions are still important, just make sure to prioritize the team and organizational goals. Now go out there and lead like a rockstar!