We thought it would only be a few weeks in quarantine. Three weeks turned into three months. Three months turned into nine months, and now…

This year the “What the Hecht?” blogs have held similar themes. When you do not know what the future holds, you look toward the light at the end of the tunnel. The light may be a vaccine, a check in the mail, a hug from someone you care about but cannot hold, or guidance from a leader about the future.

All or some of these may be true for you. The tendency is to assume everyone is experiencing a situation in the same way as you. But you may not know the personal experience of another, or what they really need to get through their day and life right now.

Wikipedia defines assume as “supposed to be the case, without proof.”

Rather than assume, this is the time the leader must communicate clearly, be calm in the present, and lay a path for the future. The leader is a guide through their CLEAR communication. This helps ensure the team is moving in the right direction with confidence. Below is an acronym for the word CLEAR, keep this handy as you set goals and prepare for a new start in 2021.

Some of these words may sound familiar as I have written about them in 2020. But, like a great song you may hear the lyrics repeatedly and gain new insight as though you had heard them for the first time.

C – Consistent Communication – In the absence of consistent information, people will “fill in the blanks” and may move in a direction that was not intended. Determine a preferred communication method and stick to it. You may decide to send a morning email, an afternoon recap, or schedule a weekly meeting. Whatever you decide, be consistent! If you choose to have an in-person or virtual meeting, schedule a specific day and time. Set an agenda that is repeated each meeting so that the team understands the goals and plans to stay on course. This ensures the team can walk the same path and see their light at the end of the tunnel.

L- Listen to Learn – Be open to feedback, areas of concern, opportunity, and input from the team. Sometimes the leader gets stuck in a mode of thinking and doing, it has worked this way before why not do it again? Your employees may have great ideas that impact the path you take and the results you achieve. If you cannot put these ideas into action, tell the employee why or why not. By listening and learning, you foster open dialogue and creative problem solving, while encouraging idea generation.

E- Engage Employees – In every organization, team, or meeting there are those who speak up and those who sit back and listen. The employees who sit back may have the greatest insight and best ideas, but lack the confidence to speak up in front of the group. Invite people to speak up and provide feedback to acknowledge the ideas and input you receive.

A – Accountable Action – Ensure your employees know the steps to take to achieve results. At this time of heightened emotion, people may not be thinking as clearly. Have the employee detail and/or verbalize what you want them to do. If you are not aligned through clear communication, the employee may veer off the path and move in a direction that was not what you intended. When this occurs, a tendency is to assume that the employee has gone “rogue.” Instead, consider your communication and ensure your expectations were clear. This situation requires a course correction to align communication and maximize time and productivity.

R- Recognize Results – This is a time for recognition, celebration, and acknowledging “wins.” We all want to know that our accomplishments have been recognized and make a difference. Take the time to thank people for their work and achievements. During this time of uncertainty, it is important to identify and celebrate all wins, even the “little ones.” One small step moves you closer to the goal.

Remember, the light you shine gives hope. You guide the way.

“There is a light at the end of every tunnel. Some tunnels just happen to be longer than others.”
Ada Adams