I published a post in December titled, “Clarity“. I argued that the clearer a leader is in his/her communication, the more effective, productive and successful the organization. People naturally crave clarity, instead of confusion and ambiguity. Clarity is even more important today given we are inundated 24-7 and 365 days a year with information; and coming from different directions.
I have always been interested in the psychology of people in organizations, and is probably why I decided to pursue a career in HR. I was the only one in my Organizational Behaviour 101 class in 2nd year business school who actually liked it. I know, I’m a nerd.
Anyway, I have been thinking about this idea for many years and now have the clarity (I think) to present an argument. Here it is. While the idea that clarity is extremely important (and I’m not for one second minimizing the importance of it), what I think may be more important is the frequency of communication.
What Say You?
Just like in recruiting where active job seekers cannot stand the “black hole” and the effect it has on our psyche, the same thing goes for people who work with other people. It doesn’t matter what the relationship is — peer to peer, manager to subordinate, a person to a group of people in a team, etc… I argue that the same idea of the black hole effect in recruiting and job searching applies to communication between people. The more frequent people communicate with one another, even if it’s a simple “hello”, the better the working relationship.
Humans are natural speculators, and we like to make assumptions about things that we do not fully understand. The easiest example is searching for a job. You spend hours submitting an application through a career site, and you wait. You wait and hear nothing. The more time elapses without a response the more you start to speculate. Did they receive my application? If they did, what did they think? What if they didn’t? What can I do? Maybe I should reach out to someone who works there? What if I do and it turns them off on my candidacy? You can ask a million questions to try to appease the ambiguity that you are facing with that situation. It can drive you nuts. Now take this example and apply it to a work situation. The exact same psychological effect can happen within a team environment. You delivered on your commitments, and now you are waiting for a team member to respond. You hear nothing, and the more time elapses (even if you have followed up) the more you to start speculate.
The Moral of the Story
If you lead people and/or work with others in teams, over-communicate. In our minds we’re crystal clear and what we have control of, but if someone else is reliant on you for something they may not have the same level of clarity that you have. There is nothing worse than people in organizations not having the level of clarity that they need, in order to maximize their performance and engagement. How you do this is by communicating — email, text, phone, in-person, social collaboration app like Slack, whatever… I am pretty confident that if you increase the frequency of your communication with others you will see a huge positive impact.