Effective communication is something we all assume we’re doing when we’ve explained our point of view to the degree we’d need to hear it in order to understand. Unfortunately, we all see the world more differently than you’d think, and often, we drop the ball without meaning to because we haven’t taken full responsibility for closing the loop.
Closing the loop means making certain that anything we put into action is brought full circle, that everything and everyone that needs to be incorporated in that circle is included, and that the person who issued the instruction in the first place gets a report on the outcome. NOT closing the loop is responsible for so many failures and misunderstandings in everything we do not only in our business lives, but our personal lives too. For that reason, effectively closing the loop is one of the most simple and powerful tools you can use when it comes to ensuring well-oiled operations.
Here are 3 considerations to help you close the loop effectively:
You know what they say about assumptions… and yet we tend to make gazillions of them every day. We assume that because we know what we mean when we say it, the person or people listening will understand it in exactly the same light – that they’ll see the same picture we do and therefore understand exactly what we’re on about. We assume they’ll understand the importance, the urgency and the connectedness of what we’re communicating to them. Unfortunately, almost every one of us sees the world slightly differently and we certainly weight our decisions and priorities differently. For this reason, it’s a really good idea to make absolutely certain that everyone involved is on the same page.
Remember that the words you use form a picture in the head of the person listening and that they’ll act on that picture. Be clear about the picture you paint and don’t assume they see the same one you do. You can ask for feedback once you’ve explained something by asking a few simple questions to ascertain whether they’ve understood fully. You can ask someone what they understand their part to be, or what they would do should a certain course of action not pan out. That way, you’ll know they see what you see.
ONLY doing “your job”
Often, we action something that falls under our job description and then we hand it off to the next person in the sequence. We fire off an email and assume that the person receiving it will understand the weight of it and take action. We assume that when we’ve done our bit and started the ball rolling, that the momentum will continue and every person in the chain will take over the responsibility of completing the action. The problem with this is that every other person has their own job to do, and they may not prioritise things the same way you do. They may have their hands full or not understand the importance of what you’ve thrown out.
Therefore, closing the loop means that you must ask for confirmation from the person you’ve sent the action on to, or that you yourself must check on the chain of progression until the required loop is closed. You haven’t done YOUR job until that loop is closed and you cannot hand off this responsibility to anyone else. You must LEAD from whatever position you hold.
Leaving people out of the loop
When we become more practised at closing the loop on everything that we action, we start to gain perspective on all the people involved in achieving any one action. We sometimes forget is that what we’re trying to achieve isn’t just the successful completion of an action, but effective communication.
Effective communication is worth its weight in gold. It builds trust which, in turn, builds speed. When this happens between team mates, or with clients, or within relationships, everyone moves onto a happier, more free-flowing level and everything happens with greater ease. Effective communication means considering not only those who need to be involved in taking and completing an action, but anyone who may have a vested interest in the outcome of that action. The power of inclusion means keeping those people in the loop and it means that everyone gets to share in the feeling that “you’ve got this”.
When you communicate effectively, you allow everyone concerned to focus on their own part in the plan with the serenity that everyone else is covering their own responsibilities. This is leadership. This is teamwork. Have you made sure everyone sees the same picture? Have you made sure everyone invested in the outcome is kept in the loop, including your clients? Have you made sure you’ve closed the loop on every action you set in motion?
by Christen Killick
May 27th, 2019