When an airplane goes down, a train derails, a cruise ships malfunction or a tanker explodes professional transportation investigators are on johnny-on-the-spot analyzing what went wrong and who’s to blame.
Single biggest cause: Ineffective communication between authority and subordinates.
What frequently happens is a subordinate believes he sees a problem, a potential problem or some disaster looming. What does he do about it? That depends on what level of mitigated speech he is willing to engage in.
Malcom Gladwell talks about this in Outliers and defines mitigated speech as “any attempt to downplay or sugarcoat the meaning of what is being said”. Fischer and Orasanu describe 6 degrees of mitigation with which we make suggestions to authority. The six degrees of mitigation are:
1. Command – “Strategy X is going to be implemented”
2. Team Obligation Statement – “We need to try strategy X”
3. Team Suggestion – “Why don’t we try strategy X?”
4. Query – “Do you think strategy X would help us in this situation?”
5. Preference – “Perhaps we should take a look at one of these Y alternatives”
6. Hint – “I wonder if we could run into any roadblocks on our current course”
Subordinates are often intimated or uncomfortable making suggestions or providing blunt feedback to “the boss” much less correcting or outright challenging an idea or perception. It can be seen as a high risk threat to job security.
How *does* your team to communicate with you?
That depends. How receptive are you to ideas that aren’t your own? What is your attitude when someone voices concerns to a new course of action you propose? How do you respond to mistakes? How often do you seek input from your team? How defensive are you? Do people communicate via hints and suggestions or direct assertions? Are people “punished” for speaking out? Aren’t sure? Want to know the truth? Click here and fill out the contact information and I will reach out to you.
How *do* you want your team to communicate with you?
ACTION ITEM: Grab something to write on.
Review the 6 degrees of Mitigation.
List the key members of your team. What method of communication do they typically use? How would you like them to communicate with you?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw.
How can the Predictive Index® system help?
Communication is something we can *always* be better at. Understanding your own communication behaviors, work style and how others preceive you can help bridge the gap between the way others currently communicate with you verses how you want them to. We can also run some group analytics to see how well your message is being understood. To learn more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org