Rumor Has It…

Leading Edge: There is nothing that can destroy our efforts to build trust, nurture professional relationships or to create an atmosphere of transparent and productive communication faster than a rumor. There are theories as to the condition of the person or people who start them, but the rate at which rumors spread can mind boggling – especially if they aren’t true. 

“A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way.” John Tudor (Author Unconfirmed)

Sometimes, they are so insidious that it is difficult for leaders and managers to discern the truth once the web is spun. Trying to dispel a rumor has been compared with attempting to un-ring a bell. So, what is a leader to do when unsolicited information creeps into the organization and threatens to minimize or even destroy the progress you have spent quality time and energy building?

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Resist the temptation to find out who started the rumor or why. Knowing the origin of the misinformation or disinformation is not relevant once the bell has been rung. People can’t unhear it and they will likely not forget it. Focus on managing the climate and not the information.
  2. If the information is irrelevant to the workplace (personal in nature), take a stand against its legitimacy in the professional environment and remind those who have been taken by it that their responsibility is to protect the privacy of others. Ask them what they would want others to do if the rumor were about them.
  3. If the information is relevant to the organization, find out as a leader what the truth of the matter is and share as much of that truth as you can without undermining organizational policies, processes or procedures. The information should be shared in a group setting (openly) so that questions and answers can be fielded if necessary.

You may be thinking… That’s a lot of work… We are dealing with adults and besides, it’s not even true. I should just ignore it. You may be right; and if you have more mature team members, you may not even have these types of issues. Lucky You!

But, take a second look at each suggestion. They all have something in common. Separately or together, they will to rob the rumor of its power – like releasing air from a balloon. The rumor may flail and flutter, but it will come down because it is powerless to defend itself against lack of interest, an unselfish perspective or the truth. When the matter has been put into perspective, there is nothing left to talk about. What’s more exciting is that you have used something that would come to destroy your team to build your team! As a team we have decided to take the higher ground – regardless of the origin of the information.

Creating an environment of trust, transparency, respect and caring for each other takes time and effort. My advice: Spend the extra time and effort to protect your investment and watch how well it works for you. Don’t let the rumor have it.

Directing the Multi-Functional Team : Part I

One Team – One Purpose

Positive team dynamics often center around a shared sense of purpose. By this I mean… having a clear understanding of the “why” behind the strategy, processes and procedures can be a positive motivator for the individual; creating tangible and even effortless unity among team members.

“It’s the type of interaction that can turn a day full of heavy, mundane, treadmill-like tasks into a weightless and exciting adventure.” COMM Envy

The all-important “why” is provided by senior leadership. It’s the rallying cry for the organization as a whole – the thing that makes everyone want to give their best. It’s the bigger picture that tells the whole story – the mission; the vision; the purpose… the reason the organization exists.

When purpose is effectively communicated and well-developed strategy is devised to support it, productivity levels will rise. However, when that purpose is either miscommunicated or misrepresented as ambiguous and irrelevant to the team, levels of productivity, moral and overall connectedness among team members will decline and turnover rates will increase. The reason for this is quite simple. Where there is lack of transparency, there is lack of trust.

I recognize that information cannot and should not always be shared at the team level. There is a reason for executive level decision making. However, there are ways to keep team members engaged without making them feel as though they are less important to the decision-making process.  

Don’t worry… this isn’t a lesson in employee manipulation or deception. What I’m referring to is something that takes quite a bit more integrity, courage and sustained effort.

Building respectful and inclusive relationships with team leaders and then training them to do the same with their team members – from the outset – creates a foundation for the trust needed to sustain them in times of flexibility and uncertainty.

For more on Ambiguity, visit COMM Envy

Leading Edge: One Team – One Purpose

When directing multi-functional teams, it’s important to clearly and decisively communicate one “why”. In other words: the same purpose applies to all teams.

The organizational purpose doesn’t change because the strategy (processes and procedures carried out to meet goals) differs from one team to another. For instance, if excellent customer service is a core value for your organization – it is integral to your purpose. That means that if you are part of the call center team, servicing the customer directly or if you are part of the sanitation crew and you don’t interact directly with the customer – your goals collide at the point of excellence, for which you both strive. When one team’s performance affects the other. Here’s how: A customer service complaint to the call center can occur if the bathrooms were not adequately stocked. Or, a customer service survey could reveal that the facilities are immaculate, but the results are overshadowed because the service center staff is seen as being unresponsive. One Team!

As a director of multi-functional teams, you don’t necessarily have to memorize intricate details of team processes, but you do have to ensure that your leaders are saying conveying the message you’ve received from senior leadership accurately and effectively. Since the main objective should be communicating the organization’s purpose in a way that causes your team leads or managers to understand it, understand their team’s place in it, take hold of it and pass it along to those who are on the front lines of service, you will have to ensure that you can do the same. One Purpose!

Stay Tuned for Part II

Reminder COMM Envy is here for you. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on any subject involving communication. Let’s talk!