In my career-coaching, I often encounter cases of communication challenges from employees or staff especially in conveying messages or ideas to the bosses. Part of the problem is probably culture and the strange imbalance of power with bosses, particularly in larger organisations. There is a lot more filtering of information with complex intentions:
- Staff might be trying to simplify things for bosses in order to get information across fast but end up obscuring some information
- Staff may also be trying to manage their bosses’ perception of them and hence try to be focused on delivering more good news than bad
- Information might be mixed with remarks incorporated for bootlicking purposes
All of these we learnt through a combination of poor workplace culture, bad upbringing with parents hiding lots of different things here and there. There are much better ways to be able to bring truth to the table without having to flinch at the expected responses.
- Highlight the context and the objectives of the company or project, and gain affirmation first
- Bring up how the objectives are not being met
- Define the problem clearly and how it connects to the objectives not being met
- Provide some options; each of which justified either by expert or external opinions, past experience from the team and other parties
- Request for a decision to be made
If the boss sits on the decision and don’t make it; you may need to be more persistent in highlighting the issue. Then you can start bringing the consequences and laying alongside the costs of the options so that doing nothing would clearly be more costly.
This approach is also useful for sales but perhaps that’s for another day.