Indicators: lighting the way forward

Sao Paulo Traffic – BBCIt may not cause many accidents on the road, but the failure of drivers to indicate is a cause of great frustration to other drivers.

I think that the problem is primarily a lack of awareness of others. We are focussed on where we are going or on the children in the back or the argument with our spouse or the friend we are texting – we are far too busy to worry about vehicles around us. Communicating with other drivers just doesn’t register as a priority.

You know how it goes: someone slows down in front of you and you have absolutely no idea what they are going to do next. Is there a problem ahead? Is she going to turn left? Is he going to turn right? Or is he on his cellphone?

Or you are waiting at a stop sign for a car to pass so that you can get into the intersection; but the car turns off beforehand without indicating. Your sarcastic waive and mouthed ‘thank you’ is lost on the offending driver.

Then there is the driver who wants to slip into the lane in front of you. Most of us would oblige if we knew (I’ve even had our notorious taxi drivers let me in when I have asked) but, without indication, who knows?

This article, however, is not a vent about drivers who do not drive as considerately as we do! This is, as usual, about business and the world of work. It is, of course, about communication.

A great deal of anecdotal evidence suggests that one of the complaints that employees (and others) raise about almost every organisation, business and workplace is the failure of communication.

I have often written about the need to keep employees in the loop and to inform them about your priorities. It’s a new year. You have taken a bit of time these last few weeks to reflect and plan for the year ahead. What are your priorities as supervisor, manager or CEO? What will be the measures of your success? What are you going to aim for in 2015? What is your goal for the first quarter or first six months?

Most of us manage to get that far. The planning and visioning is great. But it cannot stop there. We have to ask ourselves, how will I communicate this? How will I get it across to my staff or my colleagues?

In his book Wheels, Arthur Hailey justifies the elaborate and expensive extravaganzas that vehicle manufactures use to introduce new models to their dealers. When new cars arrive at a dealership they are (in the words of one of the characters) ‘dusty … grimy from the journey, with hub caps off, bumpers greasy, stickers and sealing tape all over. A mess.’

If that was the dealers’ first introduction to the car, they would be less than enthusiastic about selling it. They have to experience the ‘Wow’ of the new product. They have to know that this is the car their customers have been waiting for.

What about your organisation? How will you share your enthusiasm and excitement? How will your colleagues catch your vision?

Whatever time you have spent planning for the new year, you should be spending just as much time planning how to communicate those plans to staff and colleagues. If there are others who must implement your ideas, they need to understand and believe in them; they have to adopt them as their own, otherwise they will simply remain ideas in your head. Without effective communication that engages and compels the people around us, we will be like drivers who indicate after they have started to turn or try to change lanes without telling anyone.

What are your key indicators, your key measures, your critical goals for 2015? Who needs to know about them? How will you communicate them – not just the words or even the ideas, but your enthusiasm and your urgency?

Tell us how you will ‘indicate’ the way ahead this year?

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Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people, people-management consulting and writing and editing.

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