Communicating the vision is as important as having one
Actions can change overnight with the right level of context and understanding.
Early in my career I was perplexed and frustrated because my leaders didn’t acknowledge the sheer amount of work I was doing, they didn’t know how much effort it took to boil the ocean of sparse information to write then coordinate multiple stakeholders and run quote approvals to pull together, what seemed like, a simple one-page news release.
It seemed like a simple 20 minute task when they assessed the word count on the page. I would get edits to change other people’s quotes or the date of the release things that sometimes took days to negotiate. I would say, “I will see what I can do” and go back to my tasks frustrated that no one recognized the amount of effort they put on my plate with a few off-the-cuff comments and strokes of a pen.
I assumed, as many of us do, that someone more senior than me in the organization knew how much work this was and didn’t care, they just wanted me to make it happen. After one of my post editing rants of unrealistic feedback my colleague said, “you are going about this wrong, it is really great that you do all this work, but it will always feel frustrating if you do not start communicating what it is you are actually doing. Your job is not just to do the work your job is to communicate what you are doing.”
That is when I was introduced the 90/10 rule (at a minimum) rounding out my job description by instituting my own policy of spending 90% of my time on my work and dedicating 10% of my time to ensure I was actively telling my leaders what I was doing, why I was doing it, and helping them understand what it took to get it done.
I am not sure why I assumed they hired me to do what they already knew – they didn’t know that is what I was there for and it was my job to give them the summary. Soon the flippant changes were significantly reduced and as they understood the implications of small changes we would discuss what was “worth” pursuing and what wasn’t. My entire work experience changed once I started communicating the what and the how instead of just asking for approvals.
When it comes to the any task big or small, doing it and having it are not enough because people cannot buy-in until they fully understand the what and the how and when it comes to vision, most importantly the why. Actions can change overnight with the right level of context and understanding.
When we are all on the same team we sometimes forget the importance of taking a step back to tell the story of what we are doing and assume everyone knows. They do not know, and it doesn’t hurt to be reminded because everyone has a different perspective that needs to be shared to create a greater understanding.
Authoritarian leadership that assigns tasks, no questions asked, only creates the exact action assigned, providing context and accepting feedback creates ambassadors who go above and beyond, find new opportunities, mitigate risks and believe in what they are doing and why.
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