“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
I’ve spent a lot of time recently with an organization that is going through a lot of transition. One of the founding owners is retiring, some new owners are coming on board, there are growth opportunities, etc. All of those kinds of things are challenging, but in this case everything is made worse by the fact that virtually no communication takes place between the leaders. Issues that could have been addressed (or at least partially addressed) years ago have waited until the last possible moment. Instead of moving smoothly into the future, everything has become a struggle.
How many of our organizations function that way? Rather than talk about issues that are out in front of us, we pretend they aren’t there, or convince ourselves that we have time, or some other lame excuse. Then we end up in a position where we have very few options and lots of headaches.
There are probably a hundred ways to go about it, but here’s one simple thing that will make a difference: make time to talk. That sounds elementary, but there are thousands of organizations out there that simply fail to do just that. They all work in the same place, or for the same business, but they never really talk to each other. And I don’t mean idle chit-chat or trivial whatever-fire-you’re-putting-out-that-day issues. I mean a real, future-oriented, completely open conversation about opportunities and challenges.
It doesn’t have to be hard. It can be as easy as scheduling a standing meeting every month, or every quarter, or every week – then making that time sacred. No cancellations because you’re “busy”, no scheduling something else because “it was the only free time”, and so on. And once you get there, talk about stuff that matters. Talk about the future, talk about what you’ll need to be successful there, talk about what kinds of barriers might get in the way. Talk, talk, talk.
Don’t let manageable problems get out of hand. Don’t miss out on chances to be great. Make time to talk.