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The Art of Communication is the Language of Leadership

I recently visited with an employee that was upset with his employer.  While employed here he had received compliments about his excellent work ethic and productivity.  Recently he felt that work was being distributed unfairly. He called his supervisor to discuss his concerns (in this company everyone works remotely) and did not get a return call.  After a few days he called his supervisor’s supervisor and still no return call.  Eight days later he called the owner and was able to talk with him.  The employee discussed the issues he felt were unfair in regards to distribution and quantity of work and also asked why. The owner listened patiently and told him that he would check on it and get back to him.  After 1 week the owner did not contact him either.  What do you see right with this picture and what do you see wrong?

In short the obvious things right were:

  • The employee followed the chain command.
  • The employee laid out his concerns and asked why.
  • The owner listened.
  • The owner said he’d get back to him.

The things done incorrectly or not at all:

  • Supervisor #1 did not return his call (1st loss of trust)
  • Supervisor #2 did not return his call (2nd loss of trust)
  • Owner did not return his call (3rd loss of trust)
  • Over working good employees

He is now looking for another job.  He said when the 1st two didn’t return his phone call he was upset, but the 3rd and final nail in the coffin was when the owner did not return his call.  The old adage of 3 strikes and you’re out rang true for him.  His statement was “Why should I care about their work and the company if they don’t care about me?”  You notice the change in ownership ‘their work’ as opposed to ‘my work’, he’s already checking out.

I hear this all too often yet unfortunately these poor communicating leaders wonder why they have a high turnover of employees.  If the work distribution was fair and it is the employee’s perception that is off, one of the leaders needed to explain it to him.  When the employer (specifically Supervisor #1 and then up the chain) did not return the calls the employee feels de-valued and uncared for.  A sure fire reason to leave for anyone.

A simple answer to this problem would take just a 5-10 minute honest and transparent phone call.  It most likely would have saved the employee and still could, if it were done correctly.  Maybe the owner told the supervisor(s) to call the employee back but they didn’t? Maybe they just all got busy and forgot?  But as stated by George Bernard Shaw – “The problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred.”

As with anything, the culture of who, what, when, where, why, and how we communicate comes from all leaders.  If a leader is transparent and communicative, trust is earned.  People will go through unknown and even turbulent waters if they feel their leader values them enough to talk to them.

“The art of Communication is the language of Leadership.”  James Humes

Irmadene Hanson, RN                                                                                                                                                                                                                   CEO & Founder Magnify Your Influence                                                                                                                                                             irma@irmadene.com                                                                                                                                                                                                      irmadene.com

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