The Avengers…comprising very different personalities, including confident, righteous, funny, naive, intelligent, placid…much like the people we work with every day. When these Superheroes work together, they save the world. When they don’t, Banner turns into the HULK and smashes everything! We can learn a lot about communication and team collaboration from The Avengers.
Businesses today are constantly touting stronger communication, yet few seem to genuinely embrace this challenging goal. Most organizational cultures would agree that they encourage staff to speak their mind, be open, say what they mean and most importantly listen to others’ points of view. How many of us really do that? How many of us have tried to do that only to be shot down or suffer negative consequences? In order to have a successful business, communication at all levels is imperative.
Good organizational communication, whether it’s top-down or bottom-up, works on the premise of respectful feedback and constructive collaboration with the shared objective of making the best possible decisions for the good of the company. Like the Avengers, it requires teamwork, and importantly recognition that in an organization, all are on the same team. With increasingly private stakeholder involvement, e.g. private equity and venture capital, boards of directors are often challenged to navigate appropriate communication between the owners and the management. Messaging to the teams can become increasingly difficult, conversations are not necessarily inclusive of all relevant parties and conclusions and assumptions are being made without considering the views of those most directly impacted or involved. Here are a few lessons learned and advice for all levels of the company, even Shield!
- Be Direct – there is no reason to beat around the bush. People are not mind readers. If your direction isn’t clear and concise, it will not likely get done.
- Expect the best (not the worst) from people — Even if you want to embark on a new strategy or change direction, trust your staff to understand the clear and concise messaging you will have provided. Most professionals are able to adapt, whether they agree or not.
- Don’t Make Assumptions – You know what they say about assumptions and this couldn’t be truer. Go to the source and ask about the rationale for a specific action and be willing to listen with an open mind. Chances are there may be a reason that makes sense and could sway your initial perception.
- Share Information – Knowledge is power, but when staff feel compelled to hoard it to protect their jobs, the team dynamic devolves into turf battles, which no longer serve the best interests of the company. The best and most successful organizations share information and collaborate and they don’t worry about who is going to get the credit for it. Iron Man doesn’t get the credit for saving the world, the Avengers do!
- People are paramount – at EVERY level of the organization. It’s easy to say people are a priority, but not so easy to practice. People tend to manage up to their bosses, but only exceptional bosses have mastered the ability to manage down. Everyone has their blind spots, so follow the golden rule, treat people as you would want to be treated. You’re all in this together!
Finally, in the words of Nick Fury, “there was an idea … to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to fight the battles we never could.” When the business is faced with sales, traffic and/or profitability challenges, good communication is at the core of the best teams and truly result in the most successful businesses.
Monique R. Yeager B.Y.O.B. is a partner of Build Your Optimal Business, LLC. Monique Yeager has over 23 years of marketing and public relations experience.
Photo by Christianlorenz97 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons