This month we are highlighting our value of “Communicate directly and openly”. I believe if an organization can do this well, it can accomplish anything. The challenge here can be with an individual interpretation of this value. For instance, one interpretation of this value could be; I can say whatever I want and it does not matter who I hurt as long as I am being direct and open. On the opposite side, another interpretation could be; I do not have to share everything, just the stuff that I feel comfortable being direct and open about. This is a perfect example of why dealing with people is messy, and why organization communication is so difficult. We all have a different perspective and a unique way in which we take in information.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” - Tony Robbins
This reminds me of a story earlier on in my career at Mytech. My manager was grooming me to take his position so that he could prepare himself for his new position within the organization. He talked to me about learning the position, but ultimately I needed to "Make it my own". My interpretation of this was that I need to ask lots of questions to ensure that I had the proper understanding of the position and could learn where there were gaps in my knowledge. His interpretation of how this was supposed to play out must have been different because over the next couple of months my questions started to wear on him to the point where he asked me; "Why are you always challenging everything that I am saying"? I paused for a moment and then reminded him of the conversation that we had about "Making it my own". It's like a lightbulb went off and all of a sudden it all made sense. It wasn't that I was questioning his authority, but rather I was questioning to gain clarity. He then came up with a brilliant idea and that every time that I was trying to gain clarity I had a code phrase and simply stated: "I have a making it my own question". This helped frame the conversation and provided him an opportunity to hit pause and table the conversation for a later time if necessary.
In order for the value of "Communicate directly and openly" to work effectively, an organization has to have a unified interpretation of this value. A code word or phrase can sometimes help frame people's perspective to help unify the message. At Mytech we try to keep this value in check by pairing it with our other values such as "Practice both confidence and humility" and "Care and share". This doesn't always define successful direct and open communication for us. The next step I believe will be to ensure people understand the "Why" we communicate directly and openly, but that is for another article.