A few years ago, I sat through a painful internal training session by the CEO of company I admired. He gathered his staff to teach a new concept he had learned at a seminar. I was the only outsider in the room. The CEO had not prepared well. He apologized for not being prepared enough as he struggled to explain many of the concepts.
I found it disrespectful that he had not prepared better for the session. He had asked his senior staff to give up their lunch hour to watch him bumble around trying to “teach” a subject he seemed to barely understand. Nobody said anything, but I could sense the frustration. This CEO was well-known for making high-quality presentations to the outside world, but inside, on this day, he dropped the ball. The experience made me realize that I was also guilty of not taking communications inside my company as seriously as I should.
Why is it that we will toil for days to get a written report finely polished or a presentation just right for an outside party, but we will prepare at the last minute, or not at all, for our weekly staff meeting, monthly planning session, or for our brainstorming session with our team?
We leaders are not accountable to communicate well with our teams so we don’t. We will not get “in trouble” if the meeting agenda is wrong or if we have not thought through a concise way to explain the latest initiative or have not taken the time to add a bit of spice to a meeting to make it more interesting. What we are all missing is the tremendous positive opportunity to make the team or workplace we lead different than all the rest. So few leaders/managers take the time to do great communications with their team, that the few who do, stand way above the rest. The key is to make a deliberate, conscious mental shift from seeing your internal communications as chores to seeing them as opportunities.
Nowadays, I take the time to prepare for meetings, thinking through what I am going to say and how I am going to say it. I always make sure we have a proper agenda to keep the meeting focused and I add ice breakers to make the meeting more personal and interesting for everyone. I feel much more accomplished as a leader as a result of all this and I know my team has noticed and appreciated the change.