The philosophy of It’s in the SAUCE® is that we are more effective through our interconnectedness with others. This is true both personally and professionally. It is when our strengths combine with the strengths of others that the best results occur. We all have strengths, and yes, it is also true that we all have weaknesses. We need to be able to depend on others for those things that we lack, not in a dependent way, but in an interdependent way. This is true in families and with teams at work.
I was reminded of one of these differences early this morning as I was leaving for the airport and realized that I could not find my driver’s license which I would need for check-in. My husband said, “Why don’t you put it the same place every time so you can find it?!” The reason I don’t is because that is not my personality. Now, that is not an excuse; just a reason. And it also happens with car keys. Some of you know exactly what I mean, because you struggle with this also. I have learned that this behavior creates unnecessary stress and delays, so many times I do return keys and cards to the same location. But when I am in a hurry, I put those items in different places, and struggle later to remember where. My husband is so consistent and methodical that he has one particular place for keys and cards, and in a hurry or not, he can find them quickly, for they are put in the same place every time. Now this inconsistency of mine is not a character flaw. It is a difference due to my personality. Misplaced car keys and other items create unnecessary stress for us, and can create delays and stress for others if they are travelling with us. But these personality differences, although they can be annoying, aren’t as problematic as some behaviors in the workplace created by personality differences.
Inconsistencies in behaviors (that need to be consistent) can create confusion and stress for others, and often result in significant productivity problems. One example of this is when a manager is asked something more than once, and gives a different answer each time, or an answer that the other person hears as different because it isn’t worded the same way. This confusion can also occur when the answer that is given is different because the focus of the answer is different. The fact that there is a difference may not even be obvious to either person involved, and yet ineffective communication, and other resultant problems, often occurs. When these situations happen, the personalities of the people involved determine to a large degree whether there is confusion and whether that confusion is expressed or unexpressed. The manager who it is perceived as giving inconsistent information or direction needs to know that, and clarity can often be achieved by discussing such. Unfortunately these discussions too often don’t occur, in part due to the reluctance or difficulty of “speaking truth to power.”
Clear communication of information that others need to know is one of a manager’s most important accountabilities. Too often when communication isn’t clear that fact is not expressed, and people interpret what they need to do from their own lens. The best solution for ineffective communication is understanding and valuing personality differences, and communicating not from one’s own natural style, but in a manner that the other person will hear best. This is much harder to do than might appear on the surface. Next week’s post will discuss this in more detail.