What makes a company run smoothly? If you had to write a list of the most crucial elements of any business that helps it thrive and grow, you’d probably put down things like “quality leadership team,” “effective sales strategy,” or “high-value offering.” While those components are necessary, we’d argue that communication and alignment are actually far more valuable. Unfortunately, as many businesses are learning the hard way, workplace dysfunction brought on by miscommunication is creating chaos and sowing discord among both management and staff.
Today on the 6 to 7 Figures Podcast, we’re talking with Brandon Smith. He’s an executive coach that’s also known as the “workplace therapist.” Simply put, he goes into companies (sometimes massive mega-corporations) and cures their dysfunction. We’re going to pick his brain about what’s causing these problems and how he became the go-to “curer” of this problem.
Urgency + Lack of Time = Dysfunction
When looking at the dynamics of the modern workplace, a huge reason for breakdowns in communication and problems arising is the fact that time is of the essence, and everything is extremely urgent. When those two elements are in full swing, the first thing that gets sacrificed is communication. People start to make assumptions, and they believe that they don’t have the time to stop and provide all of the necessary context for any given situation.
Part of what Brandon has to do is help these companies recognize that dysfunction is costing them more time in the long run. When simple pieces break down, that can cause delays and force everyone to play catch up. Even something as small as how documents should be shared can be an issue that needs resolving. Over time, tiny problems can snowball into bigger ones, and then a workplace is dysfunctional.
Alignment and Priorities
Another reason why so many workplaces are experiencing these problems is that the leadership team isn’t prioritizing it. Rather than taking the time to ensure that the whole team is aligned properly, they’re focused on getting things done and doing their work without understanding how they are affecting others.
One note that Brandon mentions is that for every negative piece of feedback, managers should be providing five positive ones. The reason for this is that too much negativity between leaders and workers can put a lot of extra stress. Even if leadership understands the value of this tactic, they aren’t doing it. Why? Because they feel it’s not a priority and that they don’t have time to do it correctly.
Macro vs. Micro Coaching
Part of what makes Brandon so successful as an executive coach is that he can adapt his approach to fit both the needs of the company and the needs of the individual. A business may need its entire leadership team to get more functional, or it could be a specific manager that is causing problems. There are a couple of ways that Brandon goes about this:
First, it’s 360-degree interviews. This is where Brandon will talk to everyone surrounding a manager and ask for their thoughts on that person. He shares those details with the manager, who likely doesn’t recognize the effect that he or she has on the workplace.
Second, it’s finding the right motivation. All too often, people choose the path of least resistance, which usually means avoiding pain. However, that pain can be a powerful motivator, which is typically the result of those interviews. Once a manager understands his or her impact on others, it’s an enlightening moment.
For others, however, they respond to the carrot instead of the stick. Sales associates, for example, want to look at “best-case scenarios” that will motivate them to excel. Brandon’s job is figuring out which method is ideal for the situation and focusing on that.
Finally, as Brandon puts it, he brings his crystal ball and magic wand into these meetings. His crystal ball is “what does success look like in six months?” while the magic wand is “what would you change instantly if you could?” These tools help him understand the people he works with so that he can craft the right approach.
This episode has been very enlightening for us, and we cover a lot more territory, including what sparked Brandon’s passion for workplace therapy. You can check him out on his own podcast, as well as one of his websites. One is The Workplace Therapist, and the other is The Work Smiths.
Brandon Smith is a leading expert in leadership communication and “curer” of workplace dysfunction. Known as “The Workplace Therapist” and host of The Brandon Smith podcast, Brandon is a sought-after executive coach, TedX speaker and award-winning instructor. He is the founder of The Worksmiths LLC, an executive coaching and leadership development firm whose clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies.