How many of you remember playing the game telephone? If you aren’t familiar this is where you tell a friend a story and then they tell the person next to them and so on. The fun of this game is seeing how badly mangled the story gets at the end. I have played this game as a team building exercise and to illustrate how badly things can go when we don’t communicate well!
Recently I have experienced poor communication. I am currently volunteering for a large event at my church. I am leading a small piece of the event and there is an overall leader who is managing the event from start to finish. This person does not communicate well, and this is causing some issues with the team.
I experienced this first hand today with not only a bad game of telephone but also a very frustrating set of phone calls. You see this leader had failed to communicate what was going on and then in a moment of panic started calling me several times and then when I didn’t reply in the moment sent out a larger email indicating that I wasn’t going to serve.
If this leader had simply reached out via email to indicate that there were questions and laid those out I could of replied and we would of avoided the entire issue.
This made me realize that as leaders we often think we are communicating well, but in fact we might be totally missing the boat. We need to be humble enough to ask our team if we are doing an OK job in this area and what ways they’d like to see us improve. Of course asking for feedback is never fun and we don’t want to hear anything negative, however in this case it kind of makes sense!!
What would happen if you had a hard deadline for a project, but you didn’t communicate that to your team, or if you did you didn’t stress that this was a deadline that couldn’t be missed. Your team might think that this is a soft deadline and may not realize the urgency of the project.
Imagine this as a game of telephone. Your boss tells you “this project must be done by 1/4/2019”
You tell your team lead that this project should be done by 1/4/2019. Note the key word here is is SHOULD.
Your team lead tells the team, we would really this done by 1/4/2019.
The overall sense of urgency has drastically changed simply by 1 word being changed.
As leaders our ability to communicate is often tested, and we need to continue to stop and make sure that we are not only communicating in a way that get’s us heard but in a way that allows everyone to know what’s going.
This week, find a trusted mentor or fellow leader and ask them to help you communicate better. Ask them if they see ways you could improve and then take their feedback to heart!
Happy Feedbacking 🙂