15 Nov Memorandum From the Boss: How to Communicate with Me
To: My Direct Reports & Anyone Else Who Has to Interact With Me
From: The Boss
Re: The 5 Rules for Effectively Communicate With Me
I realize that, even though I think I’m a great communicator, most of the time, since I’m a human being, I’m not. To help improve our communication process, here are 5 Rules to follow when communicating with me:
- I want you to communicate with me. Even though you may think I’m to busy to listen to you and you will be imposing on my time or what you have to say isn’t important enough, the truth is I like you and I like talking to you. And, because we are on the same team support each other what you have to say is important to me.
- I need you to communicate with me. The farther away from the “frontlines”, where the real activities of the organization occur, the less likely I am to know what is really going on. Your ongoing communication with me is how I gather input about how you and the organization are doing and what issues need my attention.
- I want a dialogue and not a monologue. I need to hear your opinion about the issues facing the organization and you, therefore, you need to give me that opinion. Also, when I’m not clear about my expectations you need to ask for clarification. And ask even though, like everyone, I hate having to repeat myself. But it’s better you know what needs to be done rather then having to tell me later it didn’t get done.
- I need your communication with me to be open and honest. But respectful. I need you to tell me when what I’m doing isn’t working or when my behavior is counterproductive. But I’m a human being, as well as being the Boss and I have feelings just like you, so how you deliver negative news does matter.
- Cut me some slack. When you surprise me with bad news or a new idea or when I am under pressure, my immediate reaction may sound harsh and negative. Give me some time to digest what you have said and then we can continue our conversation.
These Rules are just suggestions, but, if we follow them together, they will improve our communications and our relationship and help me and the organization to operate at a higher level of performance.
The Bottom Line: This is the Memorandum I suggest every executive I coach prepare and send to those they work and interact with. Why? Because most bosses, don’t realize how bad they are at communicating with others. They believe employees who interact with them to get work done are telepathic – they are expected to read the boss’s mind! Because Employees have learned most bosses react adversely when asked to clarify or explain the incoherent request/order they just issued, most employees don’t ask for any clarification or explanation; they just hope (never a good solution!) they have understood enough of what the boss wants to be able to get the job done.
Not only does this Memorandum help employees understand how to best interact with the boss, but it also helps the boss to examine and become aware of his/her own communication shortcomings and, hopefully, to work at overcoming them in the Coaching Process. And it may also stop the Boss from rolling his/her eyes, as he/she glances towards Heaven and silently asks God why they were cursed with such a stupid Employee. A gesture seldom lost on the Employee, confirming to them the risk to be taken by merely asking a clarifying question. And ensuring they will not do so in the future.