Communication is about creating an employee line of sight and closing the gap in employees' knowledge, beliefs, behavior or action; to shift the organization from where it is to where you want it to be. Now, in this episode of Tactics Tuesday, we're going to look at selecting the right tool for the job to identify and close gaps in behavior or actions in order to create an employee line of sight. What we're aiming for here is aligned employee behavior around a common purpose, to deliver on the agreed objectives. Our goal is for all employees to have a line of sight and to go the extra mile for their customers, both internal and external.
Now, your employees have a choice. They can turn up for work and spend the minimum amount of effort, just enough to stop getting fired, or they can apply their discretionary effort and go the extra mile for their customers in ways that surprise and delight you, and obviously your customer. Now, motivation is required to drive discretionary behavior. Motivation in turn, is derived from meaning and meaning arises out of context or an ‘employee line of sight’. Without the big picture context to comprehend information, shared meaning is lost.
Providing information to employees without providing the big picture context is like giving employees lots and lots of individual pieces of jigsaw puzzle. Trying to work out how all the separate pieces of information fit together to create meaning and relevance for employees is incredibly difficult, without having employee line of sight or the top of the jigsaw puzzle box to guide them in how it all fits together.
Now, without clarity about the organization's reason for being, and values essential to enacting that reason for being, anything goes. And in a meaning vacuum, employees react with whatever behaviors and actions suit them at the time. By connecting day-to-day information to the big picture context, line of sight and meaning emerges to drive motivation, to drive discretionary behavior.
So, how might we do that? There are three ways. The first way is to remove the data dump from your internal communications. Now, advertisers don't persuade you to take action by dumping lots of facts and data about the product or service on you. Instead, they persuade you to buy into the benefits of a product or service, by directly linking those benefits to your values. And to do that, they need to know lots about you. The second way, the most powerful word in your leadership lexicon, is the word ‘Because’. Now, many leaders have an obsessive focus on how to do a job, but rarely have conversations about the why of the job. It is this that gives employee a ‘line of sight’.
Yet scientists tell us that people do what they do, or they're motivated to do what they do, because of the ‘why’ of those reasons and not the ‘how’.
The third way to give employees a line of sight is to walk the talk, to role model the desired behaviors or actions that you require employees to embrace to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’. Now, as a leader you cast a long shadow. Employees don't always hear what you say, but they always see what you do. Your behavior and actions tell employees louder than anything else how things really, really get down around here despite the rhetoric.
Now, any tool that enables you to remove the data dump from your communications and to articulate the ‘because’ is the right tool to close a behavior and actions group. You'll find 111 tactics in Tactics in a Box. One in particular I'd like to mention in this instance is infographics. Infographics can be a brilliant tool to provide the big picture context and an employee line of sight. Simply aggregate all your core corporate messages, things like vision, values, mission, and strategy on to a single page. Show the causal relationships between them and then use that infographic like the picture on top of the jigsaw puzzle box. Perhaps put it on a screensaver message So that your employees can immediately place, within that big picture context, the relevance and meaning of all the individual pieces of information that you are communicating with them. And there you have it, you have created an employee line of sight.
Okay, that's it for the day. I look forward to seeing you for next Tactics Tuesday. Until then, happy communicating.
Lorri Lennon is an award-winning advisor, trainer and author in leadership communication. She has 20 years’ experience managing communications for large global organisations.
Lorri conducts master classes to help participants maximise their communications ROI.
Mariska Mannes is an experienced communication consultant. She holds a Master of Management majoring in Communication, which allows her to bring a blend of qualification and practical experiences to her training programmes. Her expertise is in business and cross cultural communication and behaviour. For more information visit Mariska's LinkedIn profile.