Monday, April 20, 2009


I admit it, I am a stickler for clear communications. I drive people nuts because I need to know exactly what they mean. Sometimes I'm in a meeting and I'm the only person that has to get clarification on an issue--but then again, maybe I'm the only one asking the question.

I work with a wonderful person who was about to have a serious discussion with her team. She told me her overall message was that it was time for her team "to raise the bar." "Raise the bar" or "get your head in gear" or "stop treading water" and other phrases are well intentioned, but come on, what do they mean? At best they mean different things to different people. More likely, they serve no useful purpose and confuse things.

Maybe we avoid being specific in what we expect because we don't want to hurt people's feelings. Maybe we're afraid that if we're too specific, that people will only do exactly what we say and nothing more. It's our job as leaders to do our job--to think before we exhort. To analyze exactly what we want, so that we can help our teams perform.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, my mom was angry with my brother and me. It was our job to clean the house every night after we came home from school. She told me (this is putting it nicely) that we forget to empty the trash. My answer was that it wasn't on the list and I was sorry. My brother and I then made sure that was on our list every day. It became part of our daily routine.

That's the same thing we need to do with our people. Be as specific as possible and if we need to add to the list, do it. It will help our employees and it will allow us to serve our clients better. That's all I have time to discuss today, I have to take out the trash.

Barry LaBov, CEO
LaBov and Beyond

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