No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Broken Communication

I just watched some classic bad leadership in a conversation between two managers and a technician. All three were trying to solve a problem, but in the end they all left mad.

The issue: a customer's second bad experience with a bad product. Certainly something managers have a right to ask about. But here's what went wrong: the way they asked was, "Have you done this? Could you try that?" They sounded like they didn't think the technician was trying very hard, or maybe just wasn't competent.

And here's the predictable outcome: the technician finally said, "Look, why don't you guys do it yourselves." That push-back made the managers feel like he's arrogant and not a team player.

Ironically, both sides wanted the same thing: for the other to have confidence in them. Neither got it. And the customer isn't any better off, either.

The lesson is that communication as much about how you say things than what you say. Managers could ask, "Help me understand what you're doing." The technician could say, "Let me ease your concern by explaining how thorough I've been." Same concerns, different words, but the team would still be intact.

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