Miscommunication and Disengagement

Miscommunication and misunderstanding are causes of disengagement and frustration at work. Here’s a case in point.

I went to a bar/restaurant with 2 friends to watch the 2015 National Championship (for college football). My older son went to Clemson undergrad and Alabama law school so we knew we were going to win either way – ha-ha. When we arrived at the watering hole, they had the game on with no volume. They were playing background music and when we asked the bartender to turn on the sound, he said (with a sad face), “My manager won’t let me”. When we asked “Why?”, he said “I don’t know”.

There were two other ladies there watching the game and cheering as well. The bartender said he could turn on the closed captioning, but that just didn’t cut it. One of my friends walked to another bar and sure enough they had the volume on. We made our move. That bartender who was waiting on us, wasn’t happy. Money that could have been his – just walked out the door. We told our new football watching friends (the 2 ladies) that there was sound down the street and they came with us (along with 15 friends who were meeting them).

That first bar got what the manager wanted…a quiet night with soft music with 18 less customers than they could have had. The bartender had to be super frustrated due to the misunderstanding. Now to think about this from the manager’s perspective, maybe there was a long standing set of complaints about having football games on or games don’t mesh with the values and branding of the bar. I don’t think that message had been conveyed to the bartender and other servers who were watching money walk out the door.

Here’s your opportunity to avoid miscommunication that causes disengagement, regardless of your position in your organization.

If you are in a supervisory role (making decisions that affect others) …

1. Explain the “What”, the “Why” and the “How” of your decision
2. Listen for feedback. What do team members know that you don’t that could affect this decision?
3. Be flexible where you can – sometimes the method for reaching goals isn’t as important as you think
4. Trust your staff to make the best decisions for the organization and your customers

If you are a team member (on the receiving end of decisions that are made) …

1. Ask “Why?” if you don’t understand – curiosity is a helpful attribute
2. Share the benefits for the business that your method provides
3. Avoid the temptation to complain about a decision all night to customers or coworkers
4. Trust that your manager may have more information than you do

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