Gayle's Insights



Communication Breakdown Slowing You Down?

By Gayle Lantz

Last week I boarded an evening flight to New York. The flight had been slightly delayed.

When I got settled in my seat, I noticed it would not be a full flight. A nice change compared to my usual travel.

Some people were sitting side-by-side cramped together. Some rows of seats were completely open.

So people started rearranging themselves, trying to spread out and find more room.

Flight attendants were walking up and down the aisle. Back and forth, back and forth. Tapping people gently on the shoulder…counting. Felt like a game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” but there was no goose and nowhere to run on the plane.

Passengers were getting restless since we were being further delayed in Boston.

The problem was an inaccurate headcount. With all the passengers changing seats, it was hard to count moving targets.

And with all the shuffling around, it made the pilot’s job more challenging as well.  He was trying to balance the weight on the plane. One problem creates another.

Took about twenty minutes to figure it all out.

It raised the important question: Who is accountable?

Shouldn’t the passengers have known not to move around? Maybe they weren’t told.

Should the flight attendants have provided instruction? Maybe one flight attendant assumed another flight attendant had given instructions.

Perhaps an announcement could have been made at the gate. Maybe it was, but some people missed it.

In any event, without leadership or clear communication, passengers were just doing what they wanted to do. The same happens with your team members.

In your leadership role, you are ultimately accountable for results.

It doesn’t serve any purpose to cast blame when there’s a problem. Learn from communication mistakes and improve the next time.

Stay focused on the outcomes you want to achieve. My guess is that the flight crew knew that safety and time schedule were key priorities, but there was a communication breakdown somewhere.

Your Leadership Challenge: This week I challenge you to identify one specific way in which you can improve communication with your team.

If you’re not sure, ask your team members this question:

What is one specific way in which we can improve our communication that will help us get better results?

I’d love to know what specific improvement you identify.

Gayle Lantz is a leadership consultant, speaker, author and founder of WorkMatters, Inc. She works with organizations, executives and top performers who are serious about growing their business and themselves..

About the author (Gayle Lantz)

Gayle Lantz is a leadership consultant, speaker, author and founder of WorkMatters, Inc. She works with organizations, executives and top performers who are serious about growing their business and themselves..
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