Recently as I walked past a small business, the owner had engaged a couple of contractors to re-paint her office. The tension between them was almost visible and the conversation that was underway went something like this… “Can you see that? That’s not good enough!” To which the painter replied “Well you get that sometimes”, to which the terse reply was “No you don’t, not if you do a good job.” This situation summed up what a lack of clarity looks like. What is a good job? What is acceptable and not for this painting job? What were the expectations? What does success look like? Clearly there was a misalignment between what the business owner and the painter perceive as a “good job”. Fundamentally a difference between what was specified and what is implied.
Providing clarity is often avoided due to a perceived lack of time, waiting for the “complete” picture, not having the awareness of it’s value or need, the fear of confrontation and lacking the skills to communicate confidently.
A lack of clarity in organisations can cause simple issues to develop into complex issues, conflict, frustration, assumptions and disengagement. Yet the issues of misunderstood or misinterpreted clarity is a widespread issue affecting workplaces around the globe. People crave clarity, yet at the same time they avoid giving it to others.
“When there is no clarity people will make their own clarity.”
The importance of leading with clarity cannot be underestimated. Employees at all levels are more engaged, driven and productive, when clarity is present. Communication, teamwork, innovation, leadership and performance levels also sky rocket in their efficiency. When clarity levels are up, stress levels go down!
“People don’t fear change they fear the unknown.”
What does clarity look like?
- Clarity is leaders providing a clear vision, why this vision and why this is our vision.
- Clarity is people knowing where the organisation is going and knowing the significance of how their role links to achieving the vision.
- Clarity is people knowing what their role is, what they’re accountable for, how they will be measured, know they’ve been successful and how it will be recognised.
- Clarity is knowing you’re achieving what’s expected of you or not, through regular, timely, effective feedback on performance.
- Clarity is the knowledge of your own strengths, weaknesses and how to consciously apply your strengths and manage your weaknesses to achieve your goals.
- Clarity is ALIGNMENT! Between suppliers and customers.
Clarity is alignment in the specification and expectation of quality – read more about the importance of quality here.
- Clarity is succession planning and talent management processes that employees know what their development opportunities are and how they can get there.
- Clarity is Risk Management processes that embrace failing intelligently with critical thinking and transferred learnings. Processes that define acceptable levels of risk for self, teams, organisation, projects and systems.
- Clarity in projects is gained essentially through application of the RACI framework. Responsibilities (the tasks being completed) are clear,Accountability (work team members are ultimately accountable for completing), who will be Consulted and knowing who needs to be Informed throughout the project.
Thinking back to the example of the painting contractors, where is there a difference between what is specified and what’s implied in your organisation?
To improve the engagement and direction of your team where could you be providing more clarity through formal and informal processes?
Where could greater clarity increase accountability in all levels of your organisation?
Where is a lack of clarity causing you and your team stress, safety, communication, quality or performance?