"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." - Vincent van Gogh
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” ~Unknown
No single person or even group of people has all of the answers. You don't have all of the answers, your team doesn't have all of the answers, but luckily for us, together you come pretty darn close. This is why communication is so critical in today’s organizations because the answers we are all looking for aren’t all available in Google. Organizations and departments that are able to tap into the shared experience and wisdom will have a distinct advantage over others simply because they will have more answers….but that isn’t all.
They will also have more questions and better questions.
As leaders we may realize that we don’t have all of the answers, but we are often unaware of some of the struggles and issues that are occurring in the department. This was brought to my attention recently when a team member asked me about a function on our website that I was completely unaware wasn’t working the way we designed it. It functioned, but not in the exceptional way we expected it to. This was a question I didn’t know to ask so that we could provide an answer. The answers may seem like the tough part, but sometimes we need to ensure we are asking the best question. Again, the organization that can tap into the brainpower of their whole team will ask better questions and therefore get better answers. So how do we do it? We focus on two things:
Talk about it – Ask your team the questions you ask yourself. You’ll be surprised at some of their insight. When you start talking about what isn’t working, why some things are working well, and what glaring improvements need to be made you will likely open the floodgates of feedback. One thing I have learned is that when given an honest and open forum employees aren’t very shy about telling you what things are wrong and should be improved. If you open the door by talking about the questions you have, you can be sure your team will walk through it.
Receive it – The flip side is being open and action focused when they bring things to you. Communication is a two-way street and you will miss out on answers and questions you weren’t even aware of if you aren’t available and engaged when they bring these to you. Often as leaders we are pulled in several directions, but you need to make engaging with your team a priority. So even if you have to run off to a meeting, make it a point to re-engage afterwards “What was it you were saying about problems with order flow before I left?”
Along with this collaboration comes the opportunity to grow your team’s capabilities. Once they bring a problem to the table it is just as important to make them a part of the solution so they see the entire picture. One of the best things about communication is that it brings things to light so that they can be addressed for the betterment of everyone and everything. So don’t go it alone when trying to answer the questions you come across, bring all of the brain power of the organization into the process.
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