You arrive at work only to find the department was not prepped for the upcoming surge in new business. When you ask your manager what happened, you hear something about the night shift not following through on the plan.  As they are talking you can feel yourself getting angry, tuning out the list of excuses that keep coming… Sound familiar?  Lack of follow through, not having anything “stick,” and other examples of complacency and conflict can bring down any management approach.

Clear, concise, effective communication is the antidote for so many of the problems in the workplace today. There is too much information flying around and not enough people are paying attention.

How can you simplify your message? Simplification is part of the system I use that helps you actually get more done! Before I describe this system, let’s talk about why keeping it simple when managing a team or a department is so important.

We are living with an 8 second attention span. (A goldfish has the attention span of 9 seconds.)

Never before has there been so much competing for our attention. With the information overload so typical today and the tsunami of distractions, there is little awareness about the impact of this on how leaders manage. Virtual forms of communication like texting, email and social media have pushed face to face communication to the bottom of the list. Some may find virtual communication “easier,” because it avoids any opportunity for emotional displays. What is unfortunate is that face to face communication is where a leader builds trust and learns about how their staff perceives an issue.

Communication is definitely one of the areas where leaders struggle; poor communication is a major source of error, conflict and dis-engagement. Communication is the exchange of ideas and information; the root of communication is Latin, communicare, meaning, ‘to share.’  When you think of communication as ‘sharing’ it shifts your focus to a 2 way exchange.

Make it Visual

With so much competing for our attention, it pays to build in repetition. Our brain naturally thinks in images – so make your communication visual. In the world of agile lean sigma, one of the tools used is Kanban. Literally, Kanban means visual (kan) card (ban). It began as an inventory control process to match production with demand. This helped improve quality and manage production.

The Kanban approach is used to organize workflow (and value) as well as solve problems for consistent results. Make communication visual, use boards to display workflow and expectations. This keeps the process transparent to communicate with teams that may be virtual or cross functional and helps management quickly understand what is happening, while the front line understands goals and expectations.

I have incorporated this tool and blended it with other lean tools to streamline communication. Recognizing that most problems in the workplace are due to process, it is important to support your staff with a system that clearly communicates what is expected. The information on these boards can be taken in quickly and they highlight what is most important – benchmarks, goals, progress, challenges.

Would you like to know more about Kanban and other lean tools? Request access to our complimentary, private facebook group!



“Great performance starts with simple steps you do every day. Begin now. No excuses.”