The words that you use, the pictures that you share, the gestures that you demonstrate in meetings demonstrate how your business is in you at that moment in time. These visible and non visible signals, therefore are important to be aware of when talking to clients and staff. 

What messaging are you giving out? Are they continuous with your vision or are they a paradigm shift away from what you are trying to achieve.

Bill runs a manufacturing business. He has a passion for detail and this is congruent to the accuracy of his plant. His business is growing based on great reputation, but so too is the pressure on Bill to make his plant work harder to deliver greater productivity. Bill finds himself being drawn into managing the operation, to apply pressure to some of the plant staff to get the product out. His staff feel this and respond. Productivity is increasing and product is getting out of the door faster, but the overhead costs are increasing as overtime escalates. Bill needs to manage this overhead cost down to maintain his medium term profit levels but this leads to de-motivation within his staff. The returns rate starts to increase and Bill finds himself having to address this now. Bill focuses on quality again, after all, this is what he loves. The cycle starts again.

What we see in this example are a collection of mixed messaging from Bill. Sure, he needs to adapt as the pressures from his clients change. The challenge for Bill though is how? What strategies can he adopt to help operate with changing priorities and more importantly how can these changing priorities be shared with his staff?

I often think of changing priorities as sliders on a sound mixing desk. 

The sliders reflect the different conversations that are going on within the business. The balance between them is therefore determined on how you as manager, as leader feel happy. If one of the sound channels is too loud, then the sound balance is wrong and the messages appear in-congruent with other messages. 

Think of it as not being able to hear the flute above the tuba…

Sound Desk

Photo courtesy of Sam_Glover(CC No Derivatives)

In Bills case, the accuracy, productivity, cost, and motivation sliders are in play (in a simplistic world). What strategies and therefore messaging that Bill adopts are down to him but he needs to sensibly explore these. By using a sequence of questions concerning consequences about a chosen action or chosen behaviour, Bill can explore what he feels will happen, explore from his perspectives the outcomes, and understand the messaging he needs to adopt. The questions are simple – 

  1. What will happen if the chosen action is implemented?
  2. What will not happen if the chosen action is implemented?
  3. What will happen if the chosen action is not implemented?
  4. What will not happen if the chosen action is not implemented?

Now, it is likely that this could be something that Bill can do himself. He could perhaps really dig into the detail, but the challenge for him is to be relentless in his pursuit of deep exploring the consequences and subsequent actions that could materialise. If not, perhaps some external help can assist (let us know using contact us) – but that is not the point of this item.

At the start of this item, I introduced the concept that the words you use, the pictures and gestures you use are important. If Bill is 150% certain of the consequences, he will be congruent in his approach, he will be convincing in his understanding of the situations and really in touch with his staffs feelings and motivation. Undoubtedly a good place to be.


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