by Darcie Harris | Guest Post
So here’s a story about a half an hour of my life that I’ll never get back.
A colleague called to talk over a concern. She had a strong referral to a prospective client, so she called her and left a message. A couple of days went by and when she didn’t get a call back, she called again. Two more days and still no word. We’ve all been there, right?
We ended up in a long conversation about what might be going on. And in the process we theorized at least ten different scenarios. Maybe the prospect was out of town, maybe she changed her mind, maybe she got sick. Maybe the person who referred her had misunderstood her level of interest, maybe she was expecting a call from a different person, maybe my colleague wasn’t clear about why she was calling, and on and on.
After about half an hour of this, we simply hoped for the best and hung up. Within minutes, I heard from her again. The prospect had emailed – she was definitely interested and they set an appointment. She’d simply been busy and apologized for the delay.
The drama was over, mystery solved, but here’s what occurred to me.
- When we don’t have information, we make it up.
- We invent things. We hypothesize. We hallucinate.
- And most of the time, what we make up and invent is negative.
- When we experience this gap — the information vacuum –we fill it with a negative.
Hmmm, makes you wonder what your employees are thinking, when they don’t have all the information.
As leaders and employers, we all want fully engaged, committed, productive employees, right? Is it possible we might forget to provide employees with some critical information so that they CAN be committed, engaged and productive?
Like letting them know the company’s strategic direction. Like processes and procedures. Like, um, expectations. Wow, there’s a thought! Let employees know where we are going, how we need to get there, and what we expect them to contribute along the way.
I think about the half hour my colleague and I blew on the phone just trying to figure out why this person hadn’t called her back (not that I didn’t enjoy it!). Or course, we didn’t think of it as wasted time. Surely not, we’re professionals! We were “problem solving.”
Just imagine how much wasted time might be going on in your business when employees don’t have the information they need. Worse, when they don’t know where to go for it. When their conversations turn negative, I bet they don’t think of it as wasted time any more than I did. They think they are problem solving too.
Here are three simple things you can do to fill that information vacuum:
- Involve your employees in strategic planning. Then they not only know the direction, they help shape it.
- Explain to employees how the company makes money (and how you lose it). They may not have a clue about the things that keep you up at night, like wasted time, wasted materials, wasted opportunities
- Define your expectations for each employee. Be sure each person knows how they contribute to the company’s success and profit.
And the next time you find yourself without information, I hope you won’t fall into the same pattern as I did. Fill it with a positive, not a negative.
Darcie Harris is a champion for women. An international speaker, trainer, and award-winning consultant, loves helping women achiever their personal best. Darcie founded EWF International®, a company offering peer advisory groups, coaching and consulting for female entrepreneurs and executives, and the Alpha Mare Academy™, an online educational resource for women business owners. To learn more, visit www.darcieharris.com, www.alphamareacademy.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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