Confusion Causes Trouble!

communication confusion downtime effective communication leadership leadership culture leadership development poor communications profit profitability profitability killers return on investment workplace communication Mar 29, 2023
poor communications

Communication, good or bad, doesn’t just impact relationships - and the buy-in and employee engagement that tie directly to those relationships - it also fuels the fire when it comes to whether or not our team members are clear on what action they should be taking… When there’s confusion, we can expect trouble to follow. Don’t miss my point here; I’m not referring to the confusion that usually followed nearly anything the character Boomhauer said in the late 90’s (kind of) adult cartoon series, King of the Hill. The kind of confusion I’m talking about comes when we fall short of providing clear expectations for our team to act on!

Think back to the statement from the SIS International Research study I shared before suggesting that “a business with 100 employees spends an average downtime of 17 hours a week clarifying communications.” If their numbers were correct, more than half a million dollars of profit is killed annually for companies that size. For perspective, let’s say one of those 100 employee companies does around $20 million per year in revenue with a 10% profit margin. Now let’s be conservative and pretend that even the best communication only eliminates half of the downtime chalked up to the need for clarification. What lengths have you seen business owners and executives go to for a 12.5% increase in overall profitability? 

If we were having this discussion face to face, I’m pretty sure the crazy stories could go on for hours… Since we’re not though, I’ll keep it simple. I’ve seen folks all but run through walls for much smaller increases in profit than that. Let’s be honest with ourselves on this; clear and consistent communication isn’t too much to ask. Will it take time & energy? Of course it will, but I can’t imagine a scenario where that time comes close to 17 hours each week - and the results our team can achieve with that will be remarkably better… As I’ve mentioned before in dealing with our profitability killers, it’s really a matter of what result we want from the hard work we do.

When we’re willing to set clear expectations for the results we need as well as the behaviors that are required to achieve those results, and we’re willing to share that clear message on a consistent basis, confusion within our teams should be at a minimum. For what it’s worth, I really do believe we could cut the downtime hours by far more than half but I’ll save that debate for when we do get to have the conversation in person. The beauty of minimizing the time we lose by setting clear expectations and providing the clear and consistent message is that it spills over into one other key area simply because we shouldn’t have to say “I just can’t take it anymore” ever again! We’ll look at that next time before we dive into some how-to’s of dealing with this particular profitability killer…