One of the most frustrating parts of leadership is being misunderstood. I remember back in my beginnings as a leader. I would get so discouraged when I would assign tasks to volunteers or staff and they wouldn’t follow through the way I felt like I requested. It took a while for me (I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed sometimes), but I began to realize that no matter who I was delegating to or making requests of, the result was the same…disappointment. I soon realized that I was the common denominator.
I wasn’t communicating in a smart way—I wasn’t painting a detailed enough picture of what success really looked like.
Let me give you an example from my home life that many of us can probably relate to. I come home from a long day at the office and my wife says to me, “Joe, I really think we need to spend more time together.” I agree, and the next day I get a movie from RedBox and pop some popcorn. After the kids are in bed I queue up the movie and invite my wife to join me on the couch to enjoy the entertainment. feel like I am fulfilling her request, but she is mad. At this point, she says to me, “I told you I wanted to spend more time together and you completely ignored me…”
What went wrong? SMART communication didn’t happen and the ideal outcome didn’t happen. A smarter request would sound more like this: “Joe, every night after we put the kids to bed, I would like to spend 30 minutes talking about our day with no distractions like phones or television.”
Notice how different that sounds?
The same is true with our teams. When we don’t communicate in a SMART way, we leave them to try and fill in the blanks. As much as they want to deliver on our requests, they simply aren’t mind readers. So the bottom line is, we need to communicate in a SMART way!
SMART stands for:
Specific: Be specific about what you are looking to accomplish. What does success look like?
Measurable: What are we measuring this success against?
Attainable: Are you giving the person you are making the request to the proper tools to complete the task?
Realistic: Are you being honest with yourself as a leader when it comes to the reality of your situation? Remember, your team members aren’t miracle workers.
Time sensitive: What time frame would you like this completed in? Create deadlines for status reports and completion. People always work better when they know when you want something delivered by.
When we communicate in a SMART way, we fill in the cracks so our team can be set up for success. If you have a leader that doesn’t communicate in a SMART way, ask SMART questions so you can determine what success looks like!