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What Message are you Sending Your People?

by Kim Ades February 15, 2018

Do you know what message you’re putting our there? Here’s how your words and actions truly impact your team.

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I promised to take my mother-in-law shopping before the end of our recent trip to Florida. We found a strip mall with all of her favorites – dressbarn, DSW and TJ Maxx – so we made a day of it.

She insisted that I needed shoes “for the wedding in March.” (As far as I know, I’m not invited to a wedding in March.) We went to DSW and I decided to release any resistance I had and merrily shop for shoes. I scored two pairs – one for the beach and one for the wedding in March.

We stood in line. In front of us stood a man with a three-year-old boy holding onto his legs. The boy was wide-eyed and clearly very attached to his father. I turned to him and asked, “Three and a half?”

“Yes, he’s my youngest.”

The boy was angling for his dad to pick him up. The father looked down and with a stern voice, he said, “No!” He tried to explain. “He never leaves my side and never let’s me leave the house without him. If I pick him up now, he will never let me put him down.”

About 30 seconds later, he picked up his son and held him in his arms.

I couldn’t help myself. After raising five kids, I had to chime in!

“If you say No, you can’t change your mind right after,” I said. “He’ll learn that his father doesn’t ever really mean it. You are teaching him that if he keeps asking, you will eventually say Yes. Instead, say ‘I’ll pick you up in five minutes’ or ‘Let’s sing a song first.’”

He continued to explain. “I don’t want him to get cranky. He only drinks milk and I want him to last until 6 o’clock. He promised me that he wouldn’t ask for milk.”

His comment struck my curiosity. “He doesn’t eat food?”

“No, he won’t have anything but milk. We have tried to stop giving him milk, but he won’t eat anything else.”

“I have another suggestion. Instead of stopping the milk, say ‘First, eat a bite of this sandwich and then you can have your milk.’ Then gradually make it two bites, then three, and so on.”

“That’s a great idea!” He was actually quite enthusiastic about my suggestion.

I was encouraged to give him a few more pieces of last minute advice. “As a parent, always mean what you say and follow through, try to say No as little as possible, and ALWAYS keep your promises.”

That actually applies to leadership too.

If you don’t keep your promises, you send your team the message that you don’t mean what you say. As a result, they’ll question your integrity and they’ll stop trusting you as their leader. This can lead to sloppy work and a high turnover. Trust me, this is not a road you want to go down!

By contrast, when you say that you’re going to do something and you follow through, you send the message that you respect your team. And guess what? They’ll keep their promises too.

Be aware of the messages you’re sending people. The impact may be bigger than you think.

Think critically about what you’re putting out there. Start by taking a Frame of Mind Coaching™ Assessment.

Experience the Frame of Mind Assessment Interview Kim Ades

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