April 29, 2020

How to Create Clarity and Improve Workplace Communication

by Ben Woodard

Abbott & Costello: Who's On First

Abbott and Costello’s famous sketch Who’s on First is one of my all-time favorite comedy routines. Their back-and-forth dialogue quickly descends into chaos, never failing to leave me laughing at the absurdity of the situation. The root cause of the confusion was simply a lack of clarity. 

I wish I found real-life situations like this to be just as funny. However, if you’re like me, you know that the effects of a lack of clarity are rarely a joking matter. 

When Clarity is Absent

Leaders who fail to devote the time and energy needed to create clarity across the organization often reap undesirable outcomes, including:  

  • Low employee engagement 
  • Subpar results  
  • A culture marked by a lack of initiative

 

 Are any (or all) of these examples descriptors of your company culture? If you answered ‘yes,’ have you identified the root cause of these common problems? 

There’s a strong chance that a lack of clarity may be the primary issue that demands your attention.

Improve Workplace Communication in Three Key Areas to Promote Better Clarity

If you desire to increase employee engagement, results, and initiative in your organization, prioritize creating clarity in your leadership journey.

While you can leverage the principle of clarity in many ways to more effectively lead your organization and improve workplace communication, try channeling your focus toward these three areas:

Create Clarity in Three Ways

01 Clarify Purpose
02 Clarify Strategy
03 Clarify Responsibilities

01. Clarify Purpose

Clarify and continuously communicate the purpose of your organization.

This is a foundational step toward fostering a team culture marked with high levels of motivation and engagement.  

In his 2009 book Start with Why, Simon Sinek argues that communicating your purpose is the essential act responsible for capturing the hearts of both employees and customers. 

From an organizational perspective, consistent communication of a purpose that is clear, concise, and inclusive of all team members will remind your people they are a part of a larger whole unified by a shared purpose.

The leadership of WinShape Teams constantly saturates the workplace with our purpose, which is, “To build strong, healthy, and fulfilling teams that change the world around them.” They understand that clarity of purpose across the organization keeps us aligned and on-mission.

 

02. Clarify Strategy

Clarify and communicate an organizational strategy that is aligned with your purpose.

Your people want to know that they matter. They want to know their individual efforts are adding value to the mission of the organization. 

It’s up to you, as the leader, to show them how each piece of the puzzle fits together in a way that propels your organization toward its preferred future.

Clearly communicate concrete short- and long-term goals. This encourages various departments and project teams to establish defined milestones, as they support the achievement of organization-wide goals. Failure to do so can be costly. 

Pursuing a strategy that is not explicitly tied to your purpose can result in a sense of confusion and frustration among employees who may feel that their efforts are being wasted on an unnecessary initiative.

 

03. Clarify Responsibilities 

Clarify and communicate role responsibilities and expectations.

Nearly half of employees in a recent study reported lacking role clarity in the workplace. A consequence of this reality is that many people, instead of taking initiative to help create the clarity they crave, will often regress into a state of disengagement.

In other words, you’ll end up with employees who, rather than demonstrating creativity and initiative in their work, will be hesitant to act until given specific directions. 

As a healthy alternative, work to ensure that every employee achieves clarity not just on their daily role responsibilities, but also the boundaries within which they can (and are expected to) freely traverse without fear of reprisal. 

Encourage feedback from employees in order to better understand the practical needs of your people when it comes to improving team clarity.


You possess a special opportunity to drive your people toward a better future by creating clarity.

You Can Promote a Healthy Culture in Your Organization

Creating clarity of purpose, clarity of strategy, and clarity of responsibilities are three imperatives that you, as a leader, can champion to promote a healthy, sustainable culture for your organization.

Instead of tolerating misalignment or blaming others for disengagement, recognize that you possess a special opportunity to drive your people toward a better future by creating clarity. 

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