It happened again. As I started a work session with a client group recently, I asked them to bring me up to speed on what's been happening with their company since our last session. Several managers shared positive updates to projects that supported their strategic plan. Then the CEO commended the managers for their work to date, but then spent three minutes telling them they need to take time with their teams to explain the genesis of their respective projects, continue to orient new team members to the projects, communicate that change was happening in their organization and they were all playing a coordinated part in it. As he spoke, I could tell several managers started to mentally drift. Why? He wasn't keeping his message simple. I agreed with everything he was saying. However, he was talking too much and therefore, the impact of his message was getting lost. He'd forgotten to KISS his leadership communication.
We all know the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. So when I speak of Kissing Leadership Communication, I mean keep it simple. Keep it basic. Keep to a consistent vocabulary that is repeated over and over by the leadership team and ultimately the entire employee population. If everyone uses the same vocabulary, every team member is better able to understand and share the same focus. However, when leaders ramble or use too many variations of the same message, they send mixed messages, cause people to interpret what exactly they're trying to communicate, and generally just confuse their teams more often than not.
To bring the KISS idea in to the work session with this client, when the CEO finished his comments and looked to me for my input, I simply said, "I agree with what was just said. But I would like to suggest a simple way for all of you to regularly communicate this message to your respective teams. Your company now has a strategic plan. You as a leadership team finished and approved that plan two months ago. These projects are being implemented to support that plan. Regularly remind your current and any new project team members what your new vision, mission, values and strategic goals are. Then clarify how your respective project is aligning with the appropriate strategic goal or goals. Help your team members understand how each of them, by supporting their project, will support the goals, which will support the mission, and move you towards your vision. Use those terms. You've already shared the strategic plan with the employees. Now continue to share with them how you're all making it a reality. Use your strategic plan terms. Use a consistent vocabulary. Leverage it and create clarity. But whatever you do, keep your messages simple."
The CEO looked at me and said, "You just said in 30 seconds what I took 3 minutes to say." Then he looked at his leadership team, "Team, I'm still learning. We're all still learning. But we're already making headway. Let's keep going forward together." Now that's a great message. Kiss - Kiss.
Copyright MMXI - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!