Confusion. Misunderstanding. Frustration. So many of the human conflicts we experience at work, with friends and in our own families are the result of a lack of clarity. We aren’t sure what we’re supposed to be doing? We aren’t sure what our boss’s and co-workers, friends and family expect from us and what we should be expecting from them.
A friend of mine reminded me not long ago that having “a crucial conversation” is often the key to moving a relationship forward. I wonder if there are any relationships in your life that would improve if you clarified some things? Any relationships at work? Home?
“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.” – Francois Gautier
How can we bring order and clarity out of misunderstanding? As leaders who oversee people, I suggest using the following process to think through the way you might structure your current relationships. Remember, leadership is relationship. I struggle with following through on this (I’m a work in progress:) but I have used this acrostic with some success as a template for training and working with those I lead…C.L.A.R.I.T.Y is a way for me to systematically bring razor-sharp focus to the kind of relationship we have as leader/follower. To have “an understanding” begins with…
C – COMMUNICATION
L – LINES…When can we meet on a regular basis to give and receive information updates?
Set a scheduled time to communicate each day, week, or month (As often as needed) and then stick to it. I used to work for a non-profit organization that held morning meetings every day. Every day! It was a simple way of getting our team together before heading to our individual (silos) offices to work.
A – AUTHORITY…Who will they report to? What will they be given the authority to do/not do? What decisions do they have permission to make/not make? What money are they authorized to spend or not spend?
The word ‘authorize’ derives from a Latin word which means, to increase, to grow. Each person on the team is an extension of their leader. Jesus taught us this when He said to His disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” We’re extensions of Him, we represent Him, receive His authority, power, etc. Such is the leader/follower relationship. Share with them what your priorities are and how their work will contribute to success.
R – RESPONSIBILITY – What area(s) and tasks will they be responsible for? Whom will they be responsible for?
This refers to a basic job description. Followers need to know from their leaders what is expected of them. When they don’t know, they aren’t sure when they’re succeeding. As their leader let them know what you see as their job and area of ownership.
I – INCENTIVES…What’s in it for them? How will they be rewarded for successfully doing their job? What will happen if they don’t perform their job or meet expectations?
Again, to have this conversation with your followers, employees, volunteers, etc. is vital for helping structure the relationship. Both you and your team are entering into a set of agreements with one another…a mutual understanding that will either undergird or undermine everything you do.
T – TIME/TOOLS…What will be their expected time commitments?How much time are they willing to give to fulfill this role? What tools will they need?
I lead a non-profit organization. I work with volunteers who aren’t being paid monetarily. They do what they do for a different reward. But even volunteering takes time and requires resources. But this needs to be worked out, understood and agreed upon. It’s their job to provide their time it’s the leaders’ to provide the tools.
Y – YIELD…How will they know when they’ve been successful? What are the expected results we’re looking for them to produce?
This may be the most important one of all for gaining clarity. Someone has to decide what the relationship is going to be about, right? If it’s a work situation, what do you want them to accomplish? If it’s a personal friendship, what constitutes a win-win for both of you. If it’s family, what will be the purpose of your togetherness beyond sharing the same bloodline?
Remember, leaders push for clarity! Don’t stop til you have it! Now I need to go and take my own advice:)