Third common mistake (or pitfall) managers make: lack of communication and acknowledgment.

People don’t need to be praised all the time to do good work, but they do need to know that they are appreciated for the work they are doing. That comes in the form of good communication at all levels and setting precedence for acknowledgment for the small and big stuff. As the old saying goes – Words are powerful, use them wisely. They can build up a team and tear down a team, all in the same breath.

This is perhaps the most common mistake I have seen as an Executive Team Coach. It is most typically seen in environments where there are a lot of changes happening. Most commonly this appears when there is a large change initiative. People (leaders) get moving so fast, and expecting the same from their teams, that they are not clearly or frequently communicating.

One Director of a large government run agency continually ran into opposition and resistance from staff – people were downright obstinate and unwilling to get along or move toward the needed change. Post taking the cross departmental temperature, we discovered that staff were feeling coerced and in the dark about what was expected.

We worked together with the director and small group of staff on opening the lines of conversation, from the director’s office. After a few short weeks of concentrated communication strategy involving emails, state of the union blog posts and audio recorded messages to all staff, we saw a shift in attitude.

More over, we saw a 43% increase in performance on average across the state and exponential willingness to take action toward the change initiative that was coming from the director’s office.

It was key for this director to learn that taking time to talk – good, bad or ugly, was more important than trying to push people to do what he wanted or to protect them from the truth. The truth may be hard to tell sometimes and our employees would rather hear it, than fallacies.
Our employees want the acknowledgment that they can handle the hard stuff (good, bad and ugly) and by being open with communication, we tell them we trust them.

A good manager is one who knows their place on the team is equal to the sum of the whole, holds their team as capable, powerful, resourceful and creative while communicating openly and acknowledging the small stuff along the way. A good manager builds a sense of trust and collaboration as they also acknowledge their own fault line (because, we all have one.)

Coaching Questions:
How do you react to having to share the good news?
What about the bad news?
What methods of open communication do you currently employ?
When have you taken the communication ‘temperature’ of your staff?
What is the action step you are prepared to take to open up communication?