I have about 160 employees working for me right now. Communication is a large part of any manager's role but when there are that many people relying on a consistent message my real worth is often determined by what I say instead of what I do. That may be contrary to popular management belief but it's true and perhaps why so many retail managers hate their jobs--they're saying all the wrong things...
It is up to the leaders of any team to clearly and confidently set the tone and the priorities. There should be no question about what is important and what is expected. With my tenure I've learned to recognize the underlying intent of words in a business situation. I've also learned there is often a disconnect between what people say and what they intended to say. Unfortunately, I am not very forgiving if that disconnect is too large. Today my boss disconnected like a mugga...
It's not so much what he said as much as it was the frequency of what he said that bothered me.
"But we're so much better than we used to be" kept coming out of his mouth.
I once heard that 95% of human error is because somebody, somewhere along the line, didn't have a necessary conversation. So during our weekly meetings I like to offer up an area where we're not meeting expectations for discussion. As usual we started by exchanging ideas, and as usual we hit a roadblock. Instead of guiding us to a solution, he decided to repeatedly glaze over the discussion with:
"But we're so much better than we used to be"
Newsflash: I know. And we weren't that great to begin with.
After about the 6th time, the communication issue morphed into a trust issue for me. I'll probably never trust him again. How can I trust someone with relevant career development who benchmarks me against me? How can I trust someone who uses natural progress as a reason for complacency? How can I trust someone who is uncomfortable with the issues being naked on the table?
Is it just me? How can you trust
McCain someone who likes things exactly the way they are?...
My boss is right, we have made some tremendous improvements operationally, financially and otherwise. However if you are constantly rating yourself against, well, yourself--you aren't doing much. It's a conflict of interest of the worst kind.
Ideally your brain should be growing wrinkles every single day for the rest of your life. Your experiences will change the way you re-frame things and ultimately you'll make better decisions as time progresses. When you know better, you do better. That being said, the fact that you're better than your old you is normal, natural, and regular. From my experience none of the really good stuff ever comes from the normal, natural, and regular--it comes from the forced, uncomfortable, and new. Fresh orange juice, babies, hell, even air has to be purified these days.
If you're truly committed to being excellent, then you benchmark yourself against someone better than you. Then you don't try and be like them, you try and be better than them. It's healthy competition at its finest.