Five years ago, a staff member came to me and expressed their frustration with the myriad of mixed messages coming from our leadership.
After hearing this, I took the time to really observe and listen and indeed, the staff member was correct.
I too was sending mixed messages and did not even immediately realize it.
For the sake of protecting the guilty, I’ll share some fictional examples as to what I mean by mixed messages.
“We expect you to build quality connections with our clients. You can only talk to each client for 1 minute when serving them in order to serve them as fast as possible.”
“We expect a high quality and standard of work. We don’t have an extensive budget for training.”
“We take staff health and wellness very seriously. There must be consequences for mistakes.”
“We want staff to have work life balance. We need to force people to do overtime when we need them to work.”
“We always consider the perspective of the staff. The client always comes first.”
I could go on and on, yet I think you get my point.
At this stage, you are probably wondering what I might propose that you do about this?
I will suggest what I had suggested to the staff member. I asked them to let me know if and when we were sending a mixed message.
I ensured them that they would not be punished or reprimanded in any way for pointing out leadership miscommunication and in fact, I would thank them.
Then, as leadership, we would need to discuss and clarify our expectations and communcate back to staff.
This approach is not likely to be well received by all in leadership and or at the staff level to have to speak-up.
Some level of mixed messages might be hard to avoid, yet nonetheless, this simple and direct approach might help take something from mixed to smooth.
Try it and let me know.