Following a Simple Pattern

buy-in communication employee engagement human behavior leadership culture measurable results poor communication skills poor communications poor leadership productivity profit profitability profitability killers results return on investment workplace communication Apr 06, 2023
poor communications

With just a basic understanding of why people do what they do, Matt was about to intentionally break the golden rule with his team and avoid so many of the costs of poor communication! By following a simple pattern, he was able to begin adding fuel to a different fire… Instead of the fire responsible for killing the productivity (and profitability) of his assembly line, the fire he was adding fuel to was one that gave each team member what they needed and yielded a level of buy-in and commitment that produced great results! What was that simple pattern? I’m so glad you asked…

The pattern Matt began following after that conversation consisted of a minor twist on that golden rule so many of us grew up hearing over and over. When it comes to the way we communicate with others, our results are so much better when we treat them like they want to be treated instead of how we want to be treated. This idea of The Platinum Rule was something a friend mapped out for me close to a decade ago. Not only has it helped me in nearly every interaction I’ve had since, it’s proven to be a game-changer for helping leaders minimize the profit they’re losing in their organizations due to misunderstandings.

Just like learning to observe and address behaviors that contribute to workplace injuries had a significant impact on reducing injury rates and worker’s compensation costs because it was based on understanding a pattern, eliminating (or at least minimizing) confusion in the message we send our teams is truly as simple as providing the message the way each individual can best receive it. And while that may sound like a steep hill to climb, it boils down to looking for the answers to two simple questions and tailoring our message based on what we see…

Before I give you those questions though, I want you to picture someone whose pace in approaching a task is drastically different from yours. Maybe that’s someone who’s all in, all the time, and they just overwhelm you. Or maybe it’s someone who is much slower to take action but they’re very intentional about each and every thing they do. Whether we need to speed up to hang with them or slow down to make sure what they need, communicating with someone who has such a different pace from us requires a lot of energy! But when we invest the energy necessary to match our pace to theirs, we’re communicating with them in a way that they’re much more likely to receive it AND we’re knocking a dent into the poor communication profitability killer!

Adapting our pace to be in line with someone else is something we can learn to do fairly quickly because we can see whether they’re faster or slower paced than us relatively easily. I’m not suggesting it’s always easy to do, just that it is easy to see… The second question we’ll need to answer to be able to effectively follow that pattern (and follow The Platinum Rule) takes a bit more focus. We need to determine whether the individual we’re communicating with is more focused on the task at hand or the people involved in that task with them. Providing you with a complete framework for doing this quickly every single time is more involved than I can get into here but it’s something Cindy and I have helped dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals become great at. That said, there’s a cheat code! Since two-thirds of everyone we’ll ever interact with tend to focus more on the people they're involved with than the task at hand, our best course of action is to begin by showing we value that individual before we dive into what we need to get accomplished. The more task focused folks may get impatient at times, wanting to get things done, that impatience is usually really visible and serves as a cue to move things along!

Working through that for each individual on Matt’s team took about an hour and me knowing each of them for years played a big part in why I could offer that level of detail. But once he understood the pattern, he was able to apply it in almost every interaction he’s had since; with the new folks who started working on his line, the customers he interacts with on a daily basis now, and even the people he’s in line with at the grocery store! This simple pattern certainly helps address the poor communication profitability killer, but it also plays a key role in keeping every other profitability killer we’ll look at moving forward from taking a toll on our businesses!