Episode 6 - Communicate with Extreme Clarity
[00:00:00] Lauren Marie: Welcome to The Integrated Leader Podcast. I'm Lauren Marie, and I'm with my partner in business and in life, Loren Kutsko. We are the founders of Kutsko Consulting, an organization that enables human collaboration by providing the right data and technology to lead your people.
[00:00:20] We are introducing a learning program for leaders called the 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team. As a leader, management and coaching is something you need to be doing every single day, so why not be excellent at it?
[00:00:32] In this eight part series you will be introduced to the basic principles to engage, grow, and align your team for success. It's simple, but rarely is it easy. If you want to reflect on the current status of your team as you listen along, we have a free assessment at teamhealthscore.com that will give you a baseline of where your team stands today.
[00:00:53] You can also learn all about our other products and services like hiring assessments, individual coaching, group coaching and certifications. Thankfully, there's a growing awareness in many organizations about the benefits of Emotional Intelligence and the importance of self-reflection. More and more executives are discovering the impact that these have on the multiple bottom lines they are accountable to scale. Business is personal, So let's be good at it.
In this episode of The Integrated Leader, we will be exploring the sixth of the 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team, Team Clarity.
[00:01:27] Loren: Our goal is to define what it is, and have a conversation about how and why it impacts the health of your team. And then give you some tips on what you can do about it as a leader.
[00:01:36] Lauren Marie: Let's dive in.
[00:01:37] Loren: It's so nice to be with you, Lauren Marie.
[00:01:39] Lauren Marie: Thanks, it's nice to be with...
[00:01:40] I always like to say at the beginning of this, if you're just joining. And when I say always like to say, this is the first time I've said it, if you're just joining us on this journey, we are in the middle of a eight dimension series, so we really encourage you to go and listen to the first five.
[00:01:59] Loren: What is team clarity? So we define team clarity as how well the members of your team understand what is expected of them and the unique value they each bring to your team.
[00:02:11] After this episode, you're going to be able to identify the unique value each member brings to your team and clearly communicate to them what's expected. It is almost like a second part of a two-part focus on communication. So episode five is all about communication. This is clarity. We're emphasizing clarity because one of the things that we hear so often when we work with our clients is that the employees, in particular, don't know what's expected of them.
[00:02:36] They don't know what their boss wants. In a lot of cases, the boss is run around going, of course they know, I tell them all the time what we're doing. We have a mission statement here, here, here, and here. We just got out of a strategy meeting over here. I have been beating it like a dead horse. Of course they know.
[00:02:52] And then we talk to the employees and they go, I have no idea what's expected of me. So it's extremely important if people don't know what to do, they cannot do it. So we wanted to separate this out into its own chapter of the book and its own episode of the podcast so that you could really understand that you are the one on the team responsible for whether or not people know the information, that's mission critical for them to do their job. You can't rely on systems. Some of our clients are the chief executive of an organization. And they kind of know the buck stops with them. Sometimes we're working with a middle manager that feels like they don't know what's going on above the hierarchy from them.
[00:03:32] It's still your job to make sure that your team has clarity. So you are there in a lot of ways to fight the. So that even though you don't have clarity, you can create it for the people that you're in charge of. Um, so we're mainly just starting off this episode saying this is really your responsibility and we really need you to know that.
[00:03:52] Lauren Marie: I love clarity. I love knowing exactly what to do and how to do it well, and it's great. Gosh, it feels really good when you have clarity on your team.
[00:04:04] Loren: Totally. I just mentioned a second ago, the employees feeling like they don't know what to do, what is expected of them?
[00:04:11] The job description is unclear or it changes all the time or the priorities change all the time. And how it's your job as the leader to eliminate that ambiguity. The other thing that we hear from the leaders of the team is that when they interviewed and hired somebody, they did it because they thought this person knew what needed to be done and how to do it, and then they would do it. And then they got on the team and they're not doing the things that to the boss feels like part of the unwritten contract or even the written contract of employment is like, I hired you to do a job and you're not doing the job. Why aren't you doing the job?
[00:04:46] Before we get too much farther, just wanted to kind of go through what are the three necessary ingredients or components of human behavior. If people know what to do. They know how to do it and they want to do it. They will do it. So when things aren't getting done, it's because of one of those three missing things.
[00:05:08] So you can ask as the leader, if you're expecting someone to change the tire in your mechanic shop, auto repair shop, or something like that, and they're not doing it, then you have to ask them, is it that you don't know that it's your job to change the tires? Is it that you don't know how to change the tires or do you not want to change the tires?
[00:05:26] And you're going to learn so much from that conversation with them? It can be a scary conversation. So if you've got the person who knows that their job on the team is to change the tires and they're not, they know they're not doing it. They probably know it more than you. They're afraid of this conversation.
[00:05:41] You're afraid of this conversation. You're afraid of the implications of what happens if they're honest in this conversation. So it's a scary conversation. We don't want to downplay that, but it's your job to initiate it and create a safe environment for them to tell you, they don't know. It's super easy to solve the problem when you can identify what it is.
[00:05:56] If they didn't know it, that's really easy to solve. Now, I'm just going to tell you, it's your job to change the tire. What if they say, I knew it was my job. I don't know how to change a tire. These new fangled tires that are coming out all the time, I have not kept up. Right. I'm the old tire guy. Now, these new tires, they got run flats.
[00:06:13] They don't even enter tubes. They don't, you know, no air, I don't, I can't, I can't figure it out. Right. Great. We're going to now invest in you and make sure that you have the skills you need to do it. So that's a problem that's super easy to solve, it's training. Right? You don't want to do it? That's a much bigger, more difficult problem to solve.
[00:06:34] You have a job, it's to change a tire, you know how to change a tire. You don't want to change a tire anymore. Now we're going to have to collaborate on solving this problem, because this is a bigger problem, but you've at least identified what's going on by asking the question. So we wanted to start there.
[00:06:48] It's your job as the leader to communicate clearly. And then there's three reasons why employees don't do things. Or all humans don't do things either. They don't know. They don't know how, or they don't want to. So you have to have the will and you have to have the skill.
[00:07:02] Lauren Marie: That's really helpful when I think of my kids. Like, why aren't they doing something right now?
[00:07:06] Loren: I'm curious, give me an example.
[00:07:07] Lauren Marie: Uh, we're leaving to go to school. Do you not know how to put your shoes on? Do you not know you need to put your shoes on? Do you not know how to put your shoes on or do you not want to put your shoes on?
[00:07:16] Loren: Right. Now, there's some nuance in what I think the example that you're giving, because a lot of times they could know they need to put their shoes on. They could know how to put their shoes on and they might even want to put their shoes on.
[00:07:28] They just don't want to do it right now. That of course creates an interesting conversation. But even with kids or employees, right? Like, do you need me to help you start earlier? You want to take longer? Do you want to put the shoes on when you get to school, do you want to wear a different kind of shoes?
[00:07:44] Like, it's just, it's going to create a conversation. That's going to again, take that implicit under the table stuff. And it's going to put it out on top of the table explicitly. Here's the problem, mom, I'm tired. I don't want to get in the car right now. I'm having a difficult time with one of my classmates, there's a bully in my class. Right? It's like these conversations, if you know what to ask, you're going to learn all kinds of valuable stuff. Whether you're talking about your kids, or your employees.
[00:08:08] Lauren Marie: Yeah. You do such a good job as a question asker, because you do not assume, you know why they're not putting their shoes on. I assume I know why they're not.
[00:08:21] Loren: Yeah. And I don't know, you might be giving me too much credit. I may, I oftentimes assume I know, but you don't let on. Well, for me, there is a process of work, where I am actually telling myself that I may not know. So I think I know that you're slow and lazy and irresponsible as my child and that's why you're not getting in the car. But I feel like I've seen enough situations, and again, we just got out of the last episode talking about different communication styles, where people are different and I've learned so much from going to people pretending I don't know, and then asking questions and realizing I did not, in fact, know. I actually believed that I did know, but then I pretended not to know and then I learned I was wrong. Right. And then I'm like, that was cool. I'm going to do that again.
[00:09:13] Lauren Marie: Because you get this answer, you were not expecting.
[00:09:16] Loren: Oh, you have, you know, you hurt your toe last night on the trampoline and you can't wear shoes. Interesting. Fascinating. Yes. Like let's go to the doctor.
[00:09:28] Lauren Marie: Yeah. I think that's really a transferrable skill into the workplace is asking these types of the questions.
[00:09:36] Loren: Yeah, and again, there's this attitude thing with bosses a lot of times where they feel like maybe this is something that they need to do with their children at home, but I've hired adults and I shouldn't have to do this with adults.
[00:09:46] And I'm here to tell you, you do need to do this with adults. You know, there's this saying in church ministry, that all ministry is children's ministry. Right? Well, all management is parenting and all parenting is management. Like, people, there's just three reasons, they don't know what to do, they don't know how to do it, or they don't want to do it.
[00:10:04] Loren: Yeah. That was obviously a hot button, but we're just starting out by saying,
A. This is your responsibility.
B. If people aren't doing something, it's more for one of three reasons.
And now we're going to talk about how to give clarity to your team and we're going to get fairly practical here.
[00:10:17] One of the greatest challenges leaders can face is something they often don't even realize is a problem and it's because they have this thing clearly in their head, they might not realize that things aren't quite as clear to the people around them. There's another saying that vision is a leaky bucket, right?
[00:10:34] Like, people forget, we all forget all the time. And it's really up to the manager or the leader to be the chief reminder. This is one of the hardest things for me. I have a very difficult time saying the same thing over and over again. And I have a really active mind.
[00:10:50] So a lot of times I'm saying it in my head to myself over and over and over again, like a broken record. And then I think all my people have heard that message over and over and over again, as much as I've been repeating it to myself and you go check with them and they're like, oh no, I was repeating my grocery list that I need to pick up on the way home because we're out of eggs or I was repeating this conversation that I had with, you know, my spouse or the parent teacher conferences. People are not thinking about what you're thinking about. So what we want to do is just give you really practical tips on how communication, how information flows through the organization, your organization, and how it's your responsibility to make sure that it's flowing.
[00:11:32] And then, part of the way that you're going to do that as you're going to check at the end, sort of like a game of telephone, right? You say, one thing to one person that person turns and says it to the next person. And then at the end, it comes back with a different message. You're actually going to check at the end and go, is this message still the same as the one that I sent?
[00:11:46] And if it's not, you're gonna start the whole process over again. And in fact, even if it is the same, you're probably going to start the whole thing over again, because everybody just needs to be a broken record about the important messages in your organization.
[00:11:59] But the two main tools that we really want to talk about are, and we've talked about these before. The weekly meeting and there's two kinds of meetings that you really should have on your calendar every week as a team leader. And one of them is the meeting with the whole team altogether. And the other one is the meeting with each of the people on the team, one-on-one. And you want to say the same thing in both of those meetings every week to ensure that people heard it. And so you want to do it in the one-on-one so that people can have the safety and the privacy to be able to say, I disagree without being afraid that they're going to kind of publicly throw you under the bus as the leader.
[00:12:42] So you want to create that context for them to say, I have some concerns about the direction that we're going. That's a part of the learning process for them and it needs to be okay. So in the one-on-one meeting whatever message that you're conveying every week. You have to let them push back and ask questions and everybody does that differently.
[00:13:00] So you want to do it in the one-on-one. There's also kind of a collaborative experience where people are going to have new ideas about the message that you're sharing, because the other people on your team are asking questions about it. So you want to do it at least twice, once in the team meeting and once on each one-on-one. In the team meeting, you’re really actually hoping for some conflict and some drama here. So when you share something being comfortable and safe and confident enough yourself as a leader, that you can facilitate a debate on this topic. Whatever the message is you say in the team meeting, and then you say, does anybody have anything that they want to add to this?
[00:13:39] And you're okay when people disagree with you. If you're not, that's a different episode. We need to give you the Emotional Intelligence skills to be able to come into this meeting and not feel like your ego and identity is at risk by letting people tear apart your ideas. But once you're there, you just need to do it as a regular practice.
[00:14:02] Every message, twice a week, once as the group, once one-on-one. The hard thing for you is that means you’re saying, if you have seven people on your team, that doesn't mean that you're saying it twice. They are hearing it twice, but you're saying it eight times. And if you get bored, you're going to be bored.
[00:14:22] Lauren Marie: That's normal to be bored saying the same thing seven times.
[00:14:26] Loren: Absolutely, but it's also like, congratulations, you're the leader now. So you're going to have to be a little bit bored. They need it and you have to say it over and over and over.
[00:14:37] Lauren Marie: Yeah, so can you give me an example? Can we role play this a little bit? Because I feel like what are they going to be saying, every time?
[00:14:45] Loren: Yeah. Different examples for different sizes of organizations. But, you know, we talk a lot about our clients that are parts of large organizations, and they've got many layers in the hierarchy and there's HR departments and communications departments and all this.
[00:14:56] In that kind of context, something comes down from management, right? Going through COVID, and there's you know, changes of work from home policies all the time. So think about big policy changes in big organizations, right? Nobody can come in this week, everyone's working from home.
[00:15:12] That's a message that has to happen. Then a few months go by, the message changes. Now we're on a two day a week schedule, so everyone's going to be in the office two days a week, and they're going to be working from home three days a week. So those are examples of just corporate policy changes.
[00:15:28] That one attitude as the manager is that that's HR’s job, or whoever manages the corporate intranet or whoever sends out the email to all staff email lists, it's their job. It's not their job. As the manager, it's your job to make sure everyone who reports to you has heard all of those messages. So you need to kind of see yourself almost as a conduit of corporate information.
[00:15:56] Organizational news goes through you. And when it's really important, you're the one that's going to check for receipt. Like, did you hear that? Do you have any questions about that? Is that creating a problem for you in your personal life? I'm the one that's going to advocate for you with HR, if it is. So I want to know that you're having a hard time.
[00:16:13] You know, our health insurance has changing this year, right? It's like we're going through open enrollment and we're changing our insurance. I can either leave that up to the broker or the HR department or payroll, or I, as the manager can take responsibility for making sure that each of my employees has the health insurance, that they need to feel safe and secure so they can show up at work every day and do their jobs.
[00:16:34] Lauren Marie: So can we, so those are good, once in a while, I feel like, or management things that doesn't really have to do with the mission or the clarity of the role. Yep. Are you repeating clarity of roles? At team weekly team sessions and weekly one-on-ones.
[00:16:53] Loren: Yeah. That's true. Those are examples of corporate news.
[00:16:57] Another thing that we really want to talk about with clarity is, and we included this in the definition, is understanding the specific nuances of what the people on the team bring to the team and then connecting it for them. Connecting the dots for them around, Lauren Marie, you're on this team because of this, you bring this to the team that this person doesn't bring to the team and your job description is this.
[00:17:19] And here's how that job description impacts the whole team and the whole organization. It's my job as a manager to connect those dots. Let's say that I'm in charge of the facilities. My team is responsible for the operations of the janitorial staff and making sure the parking lot is clean and the doors are unlocked and the light bulbs are switched and all this.
[00:17:40] Right. And we work for an organization that is curing cancer, there's people on my team who are sweeping floors and they are working for an organization that is curing cancer. I can either sort of let them figure out their meaning and purpose and how the dots get connected from them, cleaning the floor to the end of cancer, let them figure that out on their own, or I can help them. Because people need meaning and purpose. And if you're sweeping floors for an organization that's curing cancer, there's a lot of meaning and purpose there that might not trickle down to your job if you don't have a boss who's helping that happen. I want to be the one who's not only sending these, like, you know, our HR benefits or health insurance is changing kinds of messages, taking responsibility for doing that, but I'm also taking responsibility for connecting the dots between your, in some cases, mundane task, I'm being aware in our one-on-ones that you're having trouble connecting the dots between sweeping the floor and curing cancer. So I'm the one that's going to take it upon myself to inspire you.
[00:18:43] I'm going to listen for you to say things like, I think I could play another role in curing cancer. I’m gonna go, oh my gosh, you have the will and desire to do something in addition to sweeping the floors that's related to our mission. That's one of the three things you need to take action. I want to know that and I want to give them opportunities to develop that, and learn and get excited.
[00:19:07] It's just, as the manager, being a good listener, creating opportunities to discover what's going on inside of your team members.
[00:19:14] Lauren Marie: Yeah, I also thought, in that example, maybe they are looking for ways to serve in other ways, but also like, what is the innovation and sweeping floors? Can we do it better?
[00:19:25] What tools do you need? Are your brooms wearing out? As the manager, those one-on-one conversations are so important to get at, “Do you have what you need to do your job?”
[00:19:35] Loren: Right. Absolutely. Because in addition to getting meaning from connecting with the big picture, people will also get meaning from being able to develop their skill at it.
[00:19:45] It's just really important to not judge and degrade different kinds of work around an organization because you see it as less valuable because you've got this person who potentially is really excited about keeping the floors clean, and then they might be very innovative and they might be keeping their finger on the pulse of innovation and brooms.
[00:20:02] You're like, I want you to have the latest thing. The scientists upstairs are getting the latest science. You need the latest science. It's your job as a manager to do that. So you're repeating messages, but you're also connecting dots for people.
[00:20:14] Lauren Marie: Yeah, earlier this week, or maybe last week, you said, “You play a critical role in our organization.”
[00:20:22] Yeah. You said that to me and our organization is two people large. Obviously, I could connect the dots for myself that I play a critical role, but it was so nice to hear. Oh, I matter here.
[00:20:36] Loren: People need to know that they matter. And sometimes it's obvious to you as the manager and it's not obvious to them. It's your job to remind them. Sometimes it's not obvious to you or them. And you need to do the work of understanding why they matter and communicate it (or get them off of your team). Yeah, I mean, certainly all of this can indicate, right, that somebody is not a good fit and you need to exit them from the team.
[00:21:02] And we can walk you through the process of doing that. But I think more than likely when you go through this process, you'll discover that people can be moved around to align with their value. And they don't, it's like their value isn't off the team. Certainly sometimes that happens and that's okay. And you want to be really good at it and you want them to feel like that's okay. And you want to feel like that's okay. Your identity, their identity are not connected to whether or not they work for you.
[00:21:30] Lauren Marie: We talked about the mundaneness of a weekly team meeting and a weekly one-on-one and I think we've mentioned this in one of the other episodes, but it's just not sexy to do this type of work.
[00:21:46] Loren: I think you can be sexy. I think it's often not sexy. I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding of what leadership is and they think it's about all these other important things that they really are excited about.
[00:21:59] A lot of times these people call themselves visionaries. So the role of a visionary in an organization is critically important because you're the one that has a hundred ideas before breakfast. And you are able to guide the organization to get to those ideas and create a better future for the world because you're implementing those ideas.
[00:22:20] So that's an extremely valuable role. You have to be good at managing people. A lot of times visionaries don't like managing people. They think management's a bad word and that they really want to be leaders that like management is bad and leadership is good and they're different. And I would say that in order to be a good leader, you have to be a good manager.
[00:22:38] And there's not really a such a thing as leadership, without managing people. And managing people is about caring for them and listening to them and understanding what they need. And if you're in a leadership role and you've discovered you don't like those things. It's okay. It's okay. It absolutely is okay.
[00:22:54] Let's find a way for you to minimize the amount of time that you need to do that. And the way we're going to do those, we're going to minimize the number of direct reports that you have. So we're going to find the people on your team who do want to do those things, and we're going to delegate and develop those tasks and those people so that they can do that. I mean, we've done this before. We've gotten somebody who had nine direct reports down to the point where they have one direct report because we discovered they don't really want to manage. They want to cast vision. They want to interface with external relationships, but not internal relationships.
[00:23:29] It's okay. But we need to do something about it. We need to call a spade, a spade, and now we have to manage differently because of it. We go from nine direct reports to one direct report, or three direct reports, because if you have three direct reports and you do one 30 minute one-on-one with them each week, and one 90 minute team meeting, you're now talking about three hours of management every week.
[00:23:51] And if you're doing a 40 hour work week, that means you've got 37 hours in your week to do vision. It's possible to make this work for everybody, but you have to be honest about what your skills are. Back to the first three things we said in the beginning of this episode is, part of the reason you're not doing it might be because you didn't know it, but check that one off the list because if you're listening this far into the podcast, then you know it now. You don't know how to do it, which is the reason that we're doing this with you as well, so that we can teach you how to do these things, but you might not want to do it. That may be why it's not getting done. We want that to be okay.
[00:24:25] And then we want you to decide, do you want to get better at it? And if you get better at. Will, your desire to do it grow? Or do you want to restructure so that you can focus on the things that you want to focus on? And management may not be one of them.
[00:24:38] Lauren Marie: Is there an ideal person for management? if you're looking at a DISC chart, or Driving Forces? Are there indicators of someone who does make a great manager?
[00:24:51] Because when you say a lot of people who are leaders are visionary, I imagine in my mind, a certain type of DISC style. You do? Yes. Who would hate to be managed.
[00:25:02] Loren: Oh, to be managed.
[00:25:04] Lauren Marie: Yeah. So they don't probably want to manage others because they would themselves hate that.
[00:25:10] Loren: Interesting. I mean, I don't know.
[00:25:11] I think if there's anything that we have taken away from our work with these assessments, eight, types of DISC, right, with two ends of each of the four spectrums or the 12 Driving Forces or the 25 Competencies. Even talking about nine points of Enneagram... No, I think we reject the idea that it can be so simplified that there's one style. These things layer and blend and intersect. There's ways that you can highlight things that are gonna feel offensive or that certain types of people are going to want to avoid about management. But I would never want to say because of your style, you are not going to be a good manager or you're going to hate management or something like that. Anybody can learn it. It will be harder for some people to learn it than others, but if you want to do it and we show you how to do it, you can do it.
[00:25:58] Lauren Marie: Well that's good news for a lot of people because I think leadership is hard and it can be a lonely place.
[00:26:05] Loren: It is a very lonely place. I mean, people say that it's lonely at the top and it's absolutely true. If you have three direct reports, you have a leadership team and they talk to each other about you. And if you don't have anyone that you report to and you don't have any peers, then you need people to talk to.
[00:26:21] You've just got to process out loud some of this stuff. You need a sounding board. It's not going to work to do it by yourself. And to be alone in it.
[00:26:28] We’ve got a couple of questions for you. So if you're in this place where you're wondering if things are clear or if you don't know how to clarify things yourself, that's a hard place to be. So we don't want you to feel alone and not knowing either. And so just got a couple of questions for you that you can ask yourself:
What is our goal as a team?
Why are we trying to achieve it?
When you jump out of bed to come to work, what's going on there? What's under that for you? What is motivating you? Just know these things. Do some journaling. Process this.
How do we achieve that goal?
What's the role of a given employee in that [goal]? What part of the plan are they responsible for?
What decisions are they able to make themselves?
What decisions do they need to check with other people on the team about?
What decisions do I want them to check with me about?
What am I counting on someone for?
When I added this person to the team or when I came to the team and they were already on it and I read their job description or their job title, and looked at their box on the org chart, what was it that I thought that meant, that I felt excited about that is now not happening the way that I was expecting it to?
[00:27:29] Reflecting on these questions should enable you to create job descriptions, which are firmly grounded in purpose and strategy and the people's value to the organization. We also talk a lot about page eight on people's Talent Insights assessment report, because it bullet points, the value that somebody brings to your team based on their DISC style.
[00:27:52] So we love hanging out there when we're doing a self discovery coaching session, because we really get to feed back to people, you have a lot of value and here's words to describe it that you might never have heard of or thought of for yourself. You might feeling down on yourself, you might be dealing with imposter syndrome. You might've had a bad performance review. You know, you might be looking for other jobs. You might be out of work right now, but you can answer these 30 questions about yourself and how you behave and get these eight bullet points that tell you, this is the value that you bring.
[00:28:26] Let's go find work. Let's shift your job description, that honors that value.
[00:28:32] Lauren Marie: Right. How as a leader, can we better clarify assignments for our direct report? Is there a method to it?
[00:28:42] Loren: There is a method to it and I don't have it in front of me at the moment. I don't have the specific model in front of me for how to assign tasks, like specific, detailed tasks week in and week out. But when we're defining a whole role we follow a very specific process for doing that. And we try very hard not to get it to be fewer than three reasons why someone's job exists.
[00:29:05] And we don't want it to be more than five reasons why someone's job exists. And we refer to these as key accountability statements. So we really want to be able to summarize an entire job description that often has multiple pages and dozens of bullet points into three to five categories that don't tell how the work needs to get done, that don't tell you what to do, but they tell you the reasons that the job exists in the first place. Part of the way that we think about that is if a year from now, if your job didn't exist, or if I was needing to talk to you about how you need to do better, then what would I be emphasizing in that conversation? What would I need to replace in you if we lost the position or if you left the position? What wouldn't be getting done anymore? We facilitate an entire three hour brainstorming session with clients to help nail this down. Cause people are all over the map on this.
[00:30:00] And one of the reasons we do it with teams is because it helps them get on the same page about what everybody does. We most commonly do this when they've got an open position that they need to fill, and they really want to make sure that everyone on the team has the same definition of what that job exists for.
[00:30:15] Once you've defined the reasons that the job exists, then you can benchmark it using the assessments so that when people, candidates, apply for the role... When they take the assessment about themselves, we can run a red, yellow, green match analysis, and we can see which parts fit and which parts don't. So we do that all the time for hiring, but you can also do it with the people that are already in your role or in, on your team.
[00:30:40] We can benchmark their role. We can define it using key accountability statements, and then we can figure out what they need to grow in and change in. And if they're not going to even be able to match the role that they're in, I want one. So there's science to it.
[00:30:53] Lauren Marie: Yeah. I want that for myself.
[00:30:56] Let's do it.
[00:30:56] Loren: That sounds so cool. It is so cool.
[00:31:02] Lauren Marie: It is! It sounds also when you're talking about that, like, yes, let's nail this down. Let's clarify it. You are responsible for these things, but then life happens. Absolutely. Sharon didn't show up to work today and now I'm going to have to do her stuff. And I don’t want to do her stuff.
[00:31:17] Loren: Right. And honestly, if I'm honest, I didn't really think through the three to five priorities and put them in priority order and think about how much time per week she should be spending on them before I hired her. I just was like, I've got $35,000 in my budget available.
[00:31:32] Can I get Sharon to come in here? And do the things that I don't want to do. Can I get her to accept $35,000 a year? It's a very different way that people are filling their team. And it doesn't work. Which is why people are leaving jobs every 18 months.
[00:31:47] Lauren Marie: Right, because it goes back to our now new motto because of this series make the implicit explicit.
[00:31:53] Absolutely. You have to actually nail it down and clarify it, even if it changes tomorrow. Right. And I think that's what stumbles me sometimes is what's the point of nailing it down. If tomorrow it changes. Am I wasting your time?
[00:32:07] Loren: No, that's, that's an incredible question because it's not nailed down. Writing something down and nailing it down are two different things.
[00:32:15] We're actually putting it there so that we have something to edit when it needs to change. So it's really hard to change, nothing. Right. If we never wrote it down, then we can't really track the changes. We can't notice that it's going on. We can't get everybody on the same page about the changes.
[00:32:31] Right. So we're going to write it down, but we're going to do it in pencil. So all of these plans, job descriptions, key accountability statements, objectives and key results or OKRs, mission statements, all of these things... Keep them in pencil and change them. It's okay. It's good. And the rhythm that you want to get into is not weekly.
[00:32:49] That's too much change, but quarterly is absolutely a good rhythm for changing people's job descriptions. People's priorities, people's objectives, the team's objectives. It just acknowledges what you're saying, that life isn't fixed, it's fluid. We need to be agile and flexible, but we can't just sort of be like, whimsical.
[00:33:12] We need to be agile and flexible and documented. Because if you don't document it, people don't know what the heck's going on. Then they just decide that you're whimsical and disorganized, and they're not really following you anyway, they're paying attention to the sports score or their fantasy football team or their kids' parent-teacher conferences or whatever, because they've got all kinds of things in the world that they can focus their attention on.
[00:33:32] You have to be the most engaging thing on their list. Right?
[00:33:36] Lauren Marie: I think that's a really interesting way to view it. Thank you for that, because I do think I would tend to be on the whimsical side and there's something really great about not writing it down because then I can't fail. I didn't write it down so you can't blame me.
[00:33:55] Loren: And you're pursuing, we all are doing this, so it's not like you only do this, but we all avoid accountability. The mentors receive it as freedom to not have these constraints, but actually the right kinds of goals and the right kinds of conversation and the right kinds of putting the implicit explicit actually is what creates freedom. So that's what you want to be really good at as the leader of your team is the right amount.
[00:34:26] Lauren Marie: Right because the pencil might need to be our new logo. Because there is something so powerful about writing something down and then the freedom to erase it and change.
[00:34:39] Lauren Marie: I really, really, really like that image. Thank you for using indirect communication to communicate with me. It got into my heart. Oh, that's so nice. I have a lot of mental talk about, “it's okay to change my mind, it's okay to state something that I want this, I want this, I want it to be this way.” And then. Next week I'll be like, nevermind.
[00:34:59] Loren: I was just in a meeting yesterday with a client who is in a job transition, and I have experienced this personally. And it's part of the low S dynamic of DISC is versatility and frequent change are listed as assets.
[00:35:17] There are good things about those kinds of people, but both of us, this client, and I were trying to imagine jobs that elevate the importance of frequent change, and it's hard to come up with them. And especially in, quote unquote high-end, highly paid work, because there seems to be this value of longevity.
[00:35:43] And persistence and consistency. And once you get good at something, you stay in that career for 40 years, that's certainly changed culturally. But I think it's one of the things people, when they talk about it, they talk about it as a bad thing. These millennials today are only staying in jobs for 12 to 18 months or things like that.
[00:36:01] And we really need ways as a culture to appreciate people who like to change a lot. There absolutely are roles where we need that. And we don't want to put persistent and consistent people into those roles and then be frustrated with them that they can't change quickly enough. Those are good things.
[00:36:18] Lauren Marie: Right. There is still something about nailing down and clarifying and making it explicit, what my job here is that feels really cool and exciting and gets me like, Ooh, I have a purpose. And I'm critical to the mission of this team. And then there is something so safe to know that everyone on the team knows that that can change and that new information is going to come in tomorrow and that's going to have us adapt and shift to whatever extent we think we need to. So we need someone on the team to be the rudder. That's harder to move because they're going to keep us on track, but then other people need to be that flexible...
[00:37:04] Loren: And it totally depends on what the work is, too. Right? There's work that it does need to stay rigid or somebody might die. If you're a surgeon, we're not talking about what we're doing today differently than we did it last time. Everybody come in and you know what you're gonna do, you're gonna do the same way every time.
[00:37:17] Or you do it with excellence and precision, and it's going to be amazing. And don't stray. Do not color outside the lines. And then there's jobs where it's, this just got better because people are breaking the rules and coloring outside the lines. And we just need to be good at knowing which context we're in and leading the way that the context needs us to that our customer needs us to, that our employees need us to that's that there's versatility and flexibility and those things and the one who has to understand the way your context works is the team leader.
[00:37:49] Make it flexible when it can be flexible and fluid and they need to make it rigid when it needs to be rigid and unbending.
[00:37:54] Lauren Marie: Perhaps what I'm kind of getting at is that I didn't know clarity could be flexible.
[00:37:59] Loren: Oh, I see. Right. Like, so that's why the metaphor of writing it down in pencil is so helpful. It was, oh, I can change this. It's not permanent.
[00:38:05] Lauren Marie: Right. Because clarity to me before this conversation was cement. Hmm. Which isn't clear obviously, but it's set. We have clarity now because it's set.
[00:38:17] Loren: Yeah. Which is interesting. I mean, we were talking last episode about your style and my style because we work closely together, obviously, we’ve been married for 20 years, but I'm a higher C and you're a lower C. You're less precise and I'm a little bit more precise. I really take comfort in things being written down and you don't take comfort in them being written down and I think pencil for me is similar to using like Google Calendar because a written calendar feels unerasable, to me.
[00:38:44] I'm now making that box on that monthly calendar look so full and gross when I've crossed something off, I’ve erased it or moved it around. Like that's really, that feels like a really rigid place to write appointments. Whereas an electronic calendar it's like, let's put this appointment there and then if we need to move it, it's super easy to move.
[00:39:01] We can just drag it around the week, move it to another day, you know, change the length of it. Like. I, so I think technology for me has always felt really fluid, but it gives you something to edit.
[00:39:13] Lauren Marie: Right. And editing continues to provide clarity because I think some people, once we say we've written this down, now, something happened, new information came in, we're not actually continuing to do this. But we're not going to have a conversation that that's not happening anymore. Then it begins that decrease the flow of communication. It decreases the clarity of the role. It starts to be an unsafe environment, but we really just needed to pull out our eraser.
[00:39:43] Loren: And I, and we don't necessarily want to say that everything's fluid either. Cause I know some people are probably listening, going, I'm not rewriting the vision statement because my employee disagrees with it. Right. So. That's okay. When something actually is rigid, own that it's rigid, don't come in and be like, what do you guys think about our vision statement?
[00:40:00] Like, no, no, no. That's not what we're doing. That's in Sharpie guys. Right? Totally. And that's why that's another reason why we advocate Objectives and Key Results is because it has this change built in. The quarterly meeting and review of the Objectives and Key Results is designed to have it be an agile process.
[00:40:16] And there's a lot of things that have come out since software development became a thing that like agile project management, where change is baked into the process. Those are some other helpful skills to know how to do as a leader is what to keep fixed and what can be fluid, and then what tools you need to use to manage those things.
[00:40:36] Lauren Marie: What else do we want to say about clarity? I feel like that was a really cool conversation. It was an aha moment for me.
[00:40:42] Loren: Fun. That is cool. I enjoy all of our conversations, every conversation.
[00:40:48] Lauren Marie: I don't. Is there anything else that you want to share about clarity that we haven't already said.
[00:40:54] Do you have any books? Where did you get your information about clarity?
[00:40:57] Loren: I think I learned a lot about communication from Manager Tools. So this is like 15 years ago, 2005, 2006, understanding that information moves through the organization, by the way of people communicating it with one another. And that a primary job of the manager is efficient and effective communication and that regularly scheduled weekly meetings with the team and one-on-one is the way information moves through the [organization]. Anything else should be gravy. So get the information through the organization, through one-on-one meetings and weekly team meetings. And then if you send out an email that's a recap. I think that's where I learned it all.
[00:41:34] Lauren Marie: Manager Tools is an incredible resource.
[00:41:38] Loren: Yeah, managertools.com. They've had a podcast that's been around for 15 years. It's very good. Two great books. We recommend all the time, The Effective Manager and then The Effective Hiring Manager are definitely in the bibliography of our book, 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team.
[00:41:50] And then they have great training conferences all over the world, and they've got them virtually as well.
[00:41:54] Lauren Marie: All right. Thank you for joining us today.
[00:41:57] Loren: In this episode of The Integrated Leader podcast, we have been exploring the sixth dimension of a healthy team, Team Clarity. Thank you for being with us. We hope that we've given you lots of practical tips and details on how to improve your effectiveness as a leader. Thanks for joining us. Bye.
Lauren Marie: It's important to remember that as with all learning, just having the information does not automatically lead to transformation. We can give you all of the analytics and methodologies, but team transformation will not happen without you incorporating new behaviors into your leadership practice.
Listening to a podcast without beginning to practice better management is a lot like learning about exercise without moving your body. Starting anything new will feel awkward and funny at times. This is normal and doesn't mean you should stop. Discomfort is a sign that it is working and that your brain is getting stronger. Stick with it.
Commit to trying our methods for eight weeks to six months and then observe and see what's next. See you next time on The Integrated Leader Podcast.