Some words just cost more than others. And “should” is one of the most expensive because almost everywhere it’s used you’ll find waste and loss of time and money. Everywhere you find “should” in communication this week, take a deeper dive. You’ll find a world of opportunity there to close gaps and make things better.
“What happened last night?” I asked him as we both stared at the cage of scrap parts from the night before.
“They didn’t change over to the right setup,” he replied.
“Do… you know why?” I asked as my mind was trying to dig deeper into the dilemma.
“No. They should have known it was the wrong setup for that job,” came the reply
“Did they have the right information?” I asked.
“They should have been able to look it up in the book,” he said.
“What I don’t understand,” I interjected “is why this didn’t get caught in the initial quality check. They should have noticed it there.”
Should… is an expensive word.
I’ve found that whenever “should” shows up in a conversation, somewhere there was a gap in a process, documentation or communication. Somewhere, the ball was dropped.
Should is so intriguing. If it could be converted over to a percentage, it would be something like 95%.
Like, It’s almost 100%, but not quite. It’s almost a done deal, but not guaranteed. You can almost take it to the bank, but it’s still risky.
Should is like a foundation with a crack. It looks strong but you’re not entirely sure you can trust it.
Imagine jumping out of an airplane. “Will my parachute work?” you ask. “It… should”
Doesn’t give you a lot of confidence does it?
It’s confusing because when it is used, the intention is actually to convey something sure and dependable.
And yet, in reality, that 95% might as well be 5%.
I’d venture to say that Should… should have a warning label.
“Warning: when using this word, understand that you are almost certainly guaranteeing a failure at some point”
It’s a dangerous word to throw around.
But, if you’re observant, it can be one that can help you hone in on potential issues in your business.
Try this exercise. For the next week, look for any shoulds that you come in contact with in your own conversations or with others. And then do some investigative or follow-up work. Whenever someone has used the word, dig deeper. If it’s used before an event (“I should be able to get that done”), challenge the user to solidify their goal or see if there is a reason why they aren’t more confident in it.
If it is used after an event (“they should have known that we agreed on that”), consider pulling all parties together to figure out where the gap occurred (if it did) and what needs to happen to make things more clear. Maybe it’s instructions that need to be clarified or someone was left off an email chain or was outside the loop in some way. Or maybe the main person in the area was out and their fill-in wasn’t aware of some tribal knowledge.
Should is expensive. And Should can be dangerous.
But should is also an opportunity, both to teach and to find those leaks in the boat and shore them up.
Well, that should be about it on this topic.
So much rides on good communication and yet we’ve all seen what happens when it goes bad. Miscommunication, assumptions, lost opportunities, stained relationships, waste and more. Today, we begin to lay the groundwork for topics we’ll cover in future episodes.
If there’s a phrase that has captured the last year of life her in our world, it’s probably this: “you’re on mute”.
If you’re one of the handful of people who hasn’t been on a zoom, teams or other video call this last year I guess you missed out on this treat.
But for the rest of this, I’d say I’ve only heard this phrase uttered… every… single… meeting.
After a while, you just laugh because, for as advanced as we are as people and with all of this technology, we still (myself included… often) haven’t figured out how to unmute ourselves when we’re ready to talk in a virtual meeting.
At this point, it’s just become commonplace… and honestly quite funny. Most meetings, I’m making silent bets with myself on who will forget to unmute and how far we’ll make it into the meeting before someone does this.
But it just brings to the surface how important communication is. I’m not a great lip reader so I have a hard time figuring out what someone is saying when they’re muted… especially if their video is off too.
But in our daily lives, the same thing plays out over and over. Lack of communication. Or sometimes miscommunication.
And when that happens, in our home lives or especially in business, it can take a huge toll.
You’ve seen it happen over and over and I’m sure you’ve got some great examples that just rose up into your brain of when miscommunication cost you money in your business, or caused a rift in a team relationship or created a frustrated customer or disgruntled employee. I could go on. Products scrapped. Deadlines missed. Leadership questioned. Embarrassment. Wasted time. Pain. Brokenness.
It’s so crazy because it’s just words, right? It wasn’t like you meant to ship that product to your customer but you decided to toss it off the side of that bridge instead. Nope. You just sent that email and they read it differently than you did in your head.
Communication can be, at the same time, the simplest thing we use and deal with, and yet one of the most complex and potentially destructive when used the wrong way.
There’s so much to unpack in this area and I can’t wait to dig into all of it in the episodes ahead.
Communication affects both your people and processes in huge ways.
As a leader, you set the direction for this. When done well, good communication makes processes clear, helps team members know where they stand and feel valued, sets a plan of action for the company and a unified focus, eliminates so… much… waste.
Communication is just words. But those words are like rudders on a thousand tiny ships. And when those ships go off course, they collide, sink, cause destruction.
As we talk about the different ways communication affects your company, I want to give you little snapshots that can help you identify the areas that need adpdressed, give you hope and vision for communication done well, and bring to light pitfalls as well.
So, as we dig deeper into communication next time…
Sorry, I was on mute. My bad.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode.
I can’t wait to connect with you again tomorrow
Today I’m introducing a new podcast that’s been already playing in my head for years but will now finally make it into your earbuds for the first time. Going forward, a new episode will come out every weekday morning, starting a week after this intro episode.
Before I get into the show itself, let me address the change in the podcast feed. You may notice that there are older episodes out there of a podcast called Stories of Starters. If you’re new to it, that was my first podcast, where I interviewed people who had taken a vision or passion and turned it into something bigger.
In order to preserve those interviews, which I still think offer a lot of value, I decided to start here where they left off instead of with a totally new feed. But feel free to dig through some of those older episodes and enjoy.
As for the Engineering Your Business podcast, it will be a totally different format and focus. Where Stories of Starters was a semi-weekly show that featured interviews which could be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, Engineering Your Business will be a short daily show (I’m thinking five minutes or less) that will focus on helping you optimize the People and Processes that you deal with every day as a business leader. My goal is to provide you with bite sized episodes that you can easily grab and go daily… or even batch on the weekends.
Personally, I have a mix in my own podcast playlist. Some are longer, interview or monologue shows while others are short daily shows like this one. I’ve really taken a liking to the shorter ones as they pack a punch, have a lot of variety and yet are easy to get through even if I’m short on time.
So, back to this podcast, you might ask “why the name Engineering Your Business”? Well, it has sort of a dual meaning. On one hand, I’ve been an engineer working in manufacturing for over 25 years and I’m bringing some of the lessons I’ve picked up over that time to your and your business field. As well, the episodes will help give you tools, encouragement and practical ideas that you can use to engineer your business and get it running at peak efficiency.
Now, about the specific focus, People and Processes? That comes from my wiring and makeup. I’m part engineer (it’s my job and I’m also generally curious about how things work), I’m part human resources (in that I’m relationally wired), I’m part creative (I love to write, create and see things differently) and honestly I’m part comedian (sarcasm is one of favorite languages). Granted, I’m not sure that those four types would often hang out together outside of my head, but somehow they get along in there.
And that all brings us to you, the listener. You are a business leader with a lot on your mind daily and a weight of responsibility for your business or department. You have demands. You have stresses. You have goals. And a lot of the time you might feel stuck. I want to be able to help give you a jolt, a boost, some new insight or even just some encouragement along the way.
Personally, I’ve often found that I can pound my head against a wall over and over trying to solve a problem or how to make something more efficient and then someone will come by, offer a few words and totally change my thinking or perspective. And that’s my goal with this podcast.
That said, I also believe in being yourself and offering the world your own special flavor, so you’ll find plenty of humor and creativity mixed in among the often-stuffy business talk.
I appreciate you taking the time to listen to this intro episode. Your time is valuable and I don’t take that for granted. I mean, you could have been catching up on the latest social media buzz or watching ESPN highlights or organizing your sock drawer, but you chose to spend these few precious minutes with me… while probably also doing those other things… which is why I love podcasts so much.
If you haven’t already, hit subscribe so that the next episode drops right there into your favorite podcast player. And I’d love it if you told a friend or coworker about the podcast as well.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode.
I can’t wait to connect with you again tomorrow