Recently, I was in a meeting with a group of business people discussing their growing pains and I had an image come to my mind about what they were experiencing. In my beautiful artwork, it looked a bit like this.

The Communication Haze

The leadership team was frustrated because they were working very hard to communicate and connect the whole team together but something was missing. In other, next level team meetings, I saw team members working hard to understand where leadership was taking the business and what they needed to do. They were frustrated because it felt like they were trying to read tea leaves.

In the middle of all their good intentions was a swirl of missed communications. And yet, everyone in the organization was so over-whelmed dealing with change, they felt that they had no time to work on clearing the air. They were too busy to fix it right now.

Maybe you have been in this same situation. You are working really hard on communication but there still seems to be a disconnect. In my work, I have seen this often. But the truth is that clearing up this communication problem doesn’t take as much work as expected. And the results can be astounding.

Here’s some of the missed opportunities I have seen and some ways to avoid them;

1) Mission and Vision are not enough
Over the past few decades, many organizations have spent time and money constructing Mission and Vision Statements. While these are important for grounding the organization in the Why of their existence, the job is not finished when they are on the wall. Now the organization needs to define how they will live them out. Writing down your near-term strategies for achieving your Mission and Vision means that everyone knows how you will take it from the wall and make it walk down the hall.

2) See it from their perspective
People view what is happening in the organization from the place they sit. They need to know what the strategies mean on their job, right now. They need to understand the framework for making decisions on a day to day basis. Trade-offs – in time, in resources, in expenses are constantly made in any organization. They need to know how to think about them. Make clear, for each person, from where they sit, what their role is in making the strategy work.

3) Remind them – frequently
If the strategies and actions you want to accomplish don’t stay in front of people, they will drift into the tyranny of the urgent. Firefighting on the job is incredibly satisfying and addicting. It feels great to get that dopamine rush of saving the day. The unfortunate thing is that day becomes Groundhog Day when you don’t take time to permanently solve the problems that started the fire. Review with everyone, on a regular basis, where you are in accomplishing your plan.

4) Tell them if they’re winning
If you ever want to over-come the fire-fighting addiction in your organization, you need to get everyone focused on winning on the things that move your organization forward. When they see the progress being made, they will substitute the fire-fighting dopamine rush with the hitting your objectives satisfier. Now you will begin to get traction. Develop a small set of metrics that show how the needle is moving on the results you want. Connect everyone to a metric that measures their contribution. Update and review them at least monthly.
The steps I am talking about here are not really that time consuming or difficult when you understand the impact they will have. I have seen absolutely astounding performance improvements from taking these few steps.

The new beautiful picture looks more like this;

Frustrations decrease and performance increases. Time spent fire-fighting is translated into time spent improving the business and a virtuous cycle begins.

If you need help getting your team focused on results contact me at

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