Friday, August 21, 2015

Consistent Messages

When we send mixed messages... we create confusion and chaos.   Which spelling is correct? Close your eyes, and you can probably spell this word correctly.  I'll give you a hint, the correct spelling is in the foreground.  What's in the background is nothing more than mixed signals that create a confusing message.

Imagine the impact on a child learning to spell.  I am the very proud recipient of a spelling bee trophy from elementary school, and these signs initially confused me.  Road signs, like computers, are NEVER wrong!!!  Maybe only the white ones are correct, or is the the green?

I'm going to ask that you reflect...  are you sending, and receiving consistent messages? Or, like these signs, are you delivering confusing messages to your team, and receiving mixed signals from above?

Your mantra should be... manage from where you are, and send consistent messages.  Don't be afraid to point out inconsistencies that come from above.  Only when there is a clear destination can the journey be efficient, and... well... quite enjoyable.  Remove these stresses.  As a unit, refine your mission and vision, then refocus your efforts using consistent messages.

Consistency is critical in life, in parenting, and in your relationships.  As my children, all now adults, were growing up, they always quipped that they knew my answer to their questions before the words left their mouth.  How? It was through consistency.  If we know the parameters and expectations, we are more likely to be successful within those limits.  We can stretch the limits as we grow, as long as we communicate, maintain mutual trust, and deliver a consistent message.

Consistence is a result of words matching your actions.  If you want the respect of your peers and your team, be consistent.
  1. Provide excellent customer service -  You cannot expect excellent customer service and set high expectations for others, yet not provide others the same level of service.
  2. Be responsive - You cannot expect your team to be responsive, if you're not responsive.
  3. Commit and deliverYou cannot commit to deadlines and not deliver, then hold others accountable.
  4. Be trustworthyYou cannot commit to help others, then not provide the assistance.
  5. Be consistentYou cannot say one thing, then do another.
  6. Roll up your sleeves and helpYou cannot ask your team to put in extra efforts on a project, and not contribute.
  7. Finish what you startYou cannot ask your team to be dedicated, if each of your positions are just a stepping stone to your next promotion.
  8. Be transparentYou cannot ask for transparency, and not provide it.
  9. Be inclusiveYou cannot ask for a say in decision making, and not share it.
  10. Climb up on the balcony and look around - you cannot determine your state in life, on a project, or in an organization without taking the time for reflection.
I have worked for companies that have delivered an inconsistent message.  I can tell you that this is confusing, and has a huge negative drag on employee morale and motivation.  Needless to say, I have tried to provide feedback to improve these environments.  If this was unsuccessful, then it was time to find a better cultural fit.  Why? Confusion and inaction will fill the void created by a lack of consistency.  When there is confusion, there is inconsistency that can transform productive people into zombies that are incapable of making good decisions.  People don't lose their job for being safe, they lose their job from taking risks and making poor decisions when there is an inconsistent message.

So, I guess the moral of this post is be consistent, and prevent another zombie outbreak at your organization.  Use a consistent message to motivate your team, build morale, and create a sense of community.  If you work for a zombie company, you have three choices: undertake the hard work of changing the culture, assume resistance is futile and join the dark side, or exit and head for the light.

It's your move... choose one: action, inaction, or ambivalence.  Before you chose, remember that your career is a reflection of your life, and living differently outside of work than inside is asking for internal conflict.  So, make a choice, and move forward!

If you want to see the sign in person, it's in Cooks Forest, near Cooksburg, PA.