Category Talking To Your People

When Good People Make Bad Decisions & Why ‘WHY’ Can Stop Them

This meme has been making the social media rounds lately, which sign caught your eye?

Both demand compliance, yet the one is an order and the on the right is a story that causes a physical reaction.

Why is that?

I believe that bad decisions are made when we do not understand why we are being asked to do something

if you always tell people why they’ll understand it better, they’ll consider it more important, and they’ll be more likely to comply.

And when the time is right, and you don’t have time to explain fully, they’ll trust you.

I am all about the explaining the ‘why’ through stories.

Explore more about talking to your people

Humans love stories. Story-telling is the most powerful human communication method. Our greatest leaders, teachers, and communicators know this.

A great story tells us why the hero takes his dangerous journey. Likewise, effective learning also contains the why element. The why ties facts together into a coherent, memorable story.

Why brings meaning to an employee’s actions, otherwise why do it? So, when you talk to your team build a coherent story that contains the why element to:

  • Increases employee understanding
  • Increases employee perception of importance
  • Increases employee compliance

It is the story that is important for all employees.

Feel the visceral power of the story in the DANGER sign on the right.

7 Simple Shifts – Your Checklist To Being A Better Leader

“We become what we repeatedly do.”
― Sean Covey


This is a checklist of seven simple shifts that can lead to exponential gains.

To gain benefit: print it; post it; and, do at least one action each day.

1. Take the time to say good morning to someone & thank them for coming in

2. Ask someone for their opinion on something & listened to what they have to say

3. Ask someone what is happening in their lives outside of work

4. Tell what is happening in the larger organization to keep people connected to the big picture and the higher purpose of their work

5. Write a personal thank you note to a team member or colleague

6. Make rounds, to stay in touch and talk about your expectations, so your team knows what matters

7. Take time to pursue or read something to enhance your leadership

Attracting people who’ll believe and trust you doesn’t happen overnight. You have to stick with it and continually learn to be a better leader.

Sincere & simple leadership actions draw people’s attention and are the most effective tactic for generating trust and engaging team members.

Click to download ‘7 Simple Shifts – Your Checklist To Being A Better Leader’

6 Things Leaders – YES YOU LEADER – Should and Shouldn’t Communicate

I received tons of questions on last weeks blog on how not to EFF Up talking to your people.

Communication in rough times is critical, and it must be truthful, open, and proactive. But that doesn’t mean leaders shouldn’t weigh their words carefully. Here are some suggestions for what leaders should communicate — and what they should keep under their hats.

Don’t talk to workers like you would talk to analysts. The Bank and Investors need to know the details of your financials and your projections. They want hard numbers. Employees, however, need your humanity. Tell analysts that your layoffs represent a small fraction of your workforce. Tell employees that letting people go was the last thing you wanted to do.

Don’t let the rumour mill take over. As bad as things seem, the rumour mill will always make it sound worse. So communicate regularly through every available channel, and — whether the news is good or bad — make sure the message is consistent across all channels. Tell employees everything you can about your company’s finances and how they affect individual employees.

Talk about the greater good. Your business strategy, tactics, and changes are meant to preserve the health of your company. Let employees know when hard decisions are necessary to ensure your company’s survival, especially painful changes like job cuts.

Don’t let employees hear the bad news first on Twitter. When a companywide decision has been made, employees need to hear it first and from you. In tough times, employees need a sense of security, and they won’t get that if they are the last to know.

Be visible. Employees need to see you believe you. They can’t trust that you understand their troubles if you’re not visible in their world. Make the rounds, listen to people, and ask about their situations. Workers will know you care, and you’ll learn things you couldn’t have learned otherwise.

Explain how the economy is affecting your company in words everyone can understand. Don’t assume that your employees know esoteric financial terminology — but don’t talk down to them either. It’s wise to explain why, for instance, a lower share price doesn’t necessarily mean downsizing or how a leveraged buyout will affect personnel.

Don’t Eff It Up – Talking To Employees When The Economy Sucks

For my international readers, I live in Calgary, Canada, which is a bit of a cross between Denver and Houston as we are located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and are the heart of Canada’s petroleum industry.

The oil crash in 2014 from over $100 a barrel to $30 in 18 months has been hard on our economy, with over 100 thousand layoffs. Many companies have closed their doors and are in dire financial straights.

The community is rife with terrible stories about how companies handle employee communications—from lies, senior leaders told people everything was good, then announced layoffs the next day. To inhumanity, one company asked all their staff to go into their offices, close the door and wait till 11:00. If they hadn’t been told by 11:00 that they had lost their job, they could have come out and carried on.

In short, many companies and bosses have messed up treating their people with respect and dignity.

How Not To Mess It Up

How do you talk to your employees honestly about company finances and plans?

It’s hard to be a business owner with people counting on you when you have worries and aren’t sure what is appropriate to share. As an employee, it is also hard to be in the dark regarding your employer’s plans and wonder if layoffs are looming or if your job is changing.

Here are four tips for talking with your employees when business is in tough times:

Tip #1: Don’t keep your employees in the dark — speak to them.

Here is the number one truism about your employees: They will make it up in the absence of information.

Employees are much closer to what’s going on than you are. They will know if sales are slowing because they are dealing with the phones and the deliveries each day. They also watch the news and follow social media, so they know. Never think that no news from you will be seen as good news.

There is a fine line to know when to discuss finances with employees. You don’t want to alarm anyone, but you also don’t want them jumping to conclusions because they aren’t getting information from you.

Bring everyone in, sit them down and lay out a few key points about the company’s situation. Don’t dwell on bad news, and don’t paint a picture of sunshine & roses — be balanced. Tell your people the steps you are taking to address the situation. You don’t have to have all the answers (see next point below), but you should also not give the impression that you’re clueless.

Read More about using silence while communicating

Tip #2: Allow for two-way communication.

When delivering bad news, I suggested speaking so your humanity and empathy come through.

Because we live through profit, losses, and recessions, you won’t have answers to every question. DO NOT make promises you can’t keep (like I guarantee no one will be laid off).

But letting employees talk and ask questions will make them feel part of the process. They will know you are listening. Hearing their questions will tell you much about what your people are thinking. You may be able to dispel rumours and reassure them.

Please keep track of the questions you have not answered and address them in subsequent meetings.

Tip #3: Convey confidence.

Suppose you are in a panic that will be magnified in your employees ten times over. If employees sense that you are coming across as if the sky is falling, they could start heading for the door.

The best way to deal with your own emotions is to know, plan and write out what you want to say in advance. Practice it if necessary. Take a deep breath and put your game face on before you meet with your people. You will feel calmer and more confident and convey that image.

Tip #4: Be a good fiscal role model.

Who would you support as a leader during tough times?

The CEO of an oilfield services firm overheard griping about the first-class service he received on his last flight just before he told his managers they had to cut staff by 5%.

Or, the Boss who took a larger pay cut than the staff got, cancelled the Palm Springs leadership team retreat and cut out catered lunches for management meetings?

Double standards destroy your credibility. When you share bad news and try to reassure people, they will likely not believe you unless they feel you have skin in the game.

Read More about walking the walk.

Let me close with this: Each situation is different, so there are no simple answers to how to communicate bad news to employees. But I do know that without your employees, your company is nothing.

Put yourself in their shoes and be the leader you would want to have during tough times.

Leading means you need to be in front