As a leader your actions speak louder than words

Leaders who focus only on what they say to employees – whether that’s written or spoken communication – forget that it’s their actions which often speak louder than words. Without saying anything, a misplaced action can hinder productivity and impact on morale.

Recently spotted on Todd Nielson’s blog, here’s a checklist of mistakes to watch out for. Are you guilty of any?:

  1. Failing to communicate. When’s the last time you had a conversation with an employee? How often do you talk to employees who are two rungs or more down on the organisational chart? Often leaders talk to everyone except their own team members. They give orders, but they don’t really engage in a conversation.
  2. Blindsiding employees with change. Leaders wonder why it is so difficult to convince employees to adopt changes that an executive team has spent months debating and designing. The problem is that they have left out a key part of the plan: the employees who will be responsible for making the change. The frontline workers don’t understand why the change is necessary, and they see obstacles that the executives overlooked.
  3. Sending them on wild goose-chases. Employees drop everything to work on a new, urgent priority, and then their work seems to disappear into a black hole. The leader never explains what happened, whether the idea has been dropped, revamped or rescheduled. The next time one of those assignments comes along, the employees think “No need to put much effort into this. It’s just the ‘Idea of the Day,’ and it will pass.”
  4. Ignoring what employees say. When a team member tells you about a problem, what happens? Many organisations use a 360-degree evaluation programme approach and open-door policies – but employees learn that voicing concerns about a manager or another problem just pegs them as troublemakers. If leaders don’t listen—and act to address problems—employees stop speaking up.
  5. Failing to keep commitments. Do you deliver what you say you will to your team members, on time every time? Do you treat an appointment with an employee the same way you treat an appointment with an important customer, showing up on time and devoting your full attention to them? If you keep the employee waiting, reschedule multiple times and multitask while you are talking, those actions send a clear message to employees that they are unimportant. To be a trusted, respected and effective leader, pay as much attention to what you aren’t saying as you do to your speeches and memos. Ask yourself: What are my actions telling my employees?

Do you botch communications?

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