I was talking to a leader yesterday and he said this, "no news is no news." He is so right and this points to a common managerial weakness – allowing ourselves to get lazy, complacent, or to let our fears keep us from getting out of our chairs to find out what we need to know about what’s going on in the business.
No news is no news – when managers have no news, how can they possibly do their jobs? The problem is that I have known many managers who operate on auto pilot and have the perspective that no news is good news. Wrong.
Sure – we don’t want to micromanage. You know how I feel about micromanagement and an overuse of control to mask an inability to inspire excellence.
Managers must know what’s going on in the business.
I can’t even count the number of times that people have told me that their managers are clueless as to what’s going on. What do you think the odds are that your employees say that about you?
The good news: This is an easy problem to solve.
1. Have real – candid and deep – conversations about the business on a regular basis.
2. Encourage your employees, peers, and managers to come talk with you.
3. Show your appreciation for constructive and candid conversation and input – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
4. Be analytical – seek and interpret information. If this is not a natural strength, ask for coaching and develop this skill.
I once knew a manager I will call Debbie. She was smart and she clueless about what was going on. Why? Because she put up barriers to communication. She was not accessible. She closed her office door for most of the day. She was always working on high profile planning stuff that she had to share with the president – problem was that she was plannign in an information vacuum. She did not welcome ad hoc visitors. She took several days to get to email and did not respond to all of them. She acted so busy and yet I would say that she was a slacker because she did not fulfill one of her most important duties as a manager – communication and connection. Managers ought to be like organizational glue. She was not like glue.
She was my manager for a time, by the way. She was the VP of HR and I was the director of training and OD. I could not fathom how she defined success. She was an HR director who did not engage with people unless absolutely necessary. Why become a surgeon if you can’t stand the sight of blood?
No news is no news. Make sure today that you are not dealing with no news.
Here’s a post from my pal David Anderson that relates to the power of honest information when dealing with projects called Why Red Status is my Friend. Could not agree more. Here’s a snippet:
It seems that it isn’t culturally acceptable to report bad news and experienced PM’s have made a career out of not doing so. Hence, the politically astute invitation for me to do something about it before the red status gets reported. So my response was unusual. What the PM’s fail to realize is that I see red status as my friend.
Knowledge is power – the power to choose, the power to react, the power to influence, the power to fix.
Information opens doors and facilitates better decisions.
OK, I know, you get this intellectually. But I want to challenge you. Do you have the communication practices, habits, and processes in place to ensure that you know what you need to know?