Clarity | Workplace

How Clarity Can Cultivate a More Deeply Human Workplace


Is There Clarity in Your Workplace?

If you’re hesitating with your answer, there may be a problem.

In my work as an executive coach, I started noticing an interesting pattern. When people don’t have clarity, it triggers a fear of not knowing how to succeed.

“Clarity is like casting light. Clarity allows us to see better and eases the path of understanding.”
-Cyrus Panjvani

In my latest book coming out on February 28th, The Deeply Human Workplace”, I address this core human need to have clarity – in both the what and the how.

When people don’t have clarity of the what and the how, work becomes a never-ending guessing game with one of two outcomes:

  • the employee fails in their role because expectations are misaligned, OR
  • the employee becomes frustrated and seeks a different role outside of the organization

In a time of unprecedented levels of attrition across almost all industries, I believe that it makes sense right now for leaders to double down on adding clarity in the workplace where they can.

Burnout: The Person or the Environment?

Social psychologist and professor emerita of psychology at the University of California, Christina Maslach is well-known as the “burnout expert.”

She says we’ve been treating burnout all wrong, labeling employees with burnout as problem workers – but it’s more than that. It’s the environment that’s sick, not the person.

Maslach gives a simple analogy to make her point:

Think of a flock of healthy, singing canaries that fly into a coal mine. When they exit, covered in dark soot and diseased, they’re not singing any more. It’s obvious: the canaries didn’t make themselves sick. The coal mine caused their illness.

A recent Gallup poll of 7,500 full-time employees gives credence to Maslach’s belief that it’s not the person, it’s the work environment that is unhealthy. The survey noted the five top causes for burnout:

  • unjust treatment at work
  • excessive workload
  • lack of job clarity
  • unreasonable time pressure
  • lack of support and communication from managers

The foundation for burnout does not rest in the individual alone. It’s in their work environment.

Burnout can be avoided – if leadership introduces preventative strategies.

4 Questions Every Leader Must Ask

We’ve come face to face with just how humans deal with lack of clarity.

The pandemic turned everyone’s life upside down. Cherished routines had to be cast aside. Workers were uncertain where they were working, if they were working, and how to accomplish a new way of doing business in addition to homeschooling children.

People lost clarity in their lives. And it hurt.

Yet even now, leaders can cultivate clarity in the workplace – and it’s never been more important.

I’ve talked about a deeply human workplace, a place where connection is key, where employees feel a sense of belonging and of being a part of something bigger.

As a leader, here are four questions you can share and discuss with your team to get started:

  1. What is our singular purpose as a team?
  2. What are our goals for the next quarter?
  3. How well do we align on key decisions and actions at the end of our meetings?
  4. What norms do we need in place to guide our interactions?

When we create a workplace where people feel secure, where they have clarity, that translates into a place where people feel connected. They trust each other, and they become inspired.

It becomes a workplace that thrives, one where employees want to work in each day.

Let’s Clarify: There’s No Crystal Ball in Leadership

Clarity in the WorkplaceLook, we can’t create clarity on all things in the workplace.

It’s unrealistic.

There’s just too much uncertainty. That’s part of the world we live in, both at work and at home.

But as leaders, let’s not make unforced errors. At a minimum we can create clarity about our goals, purpose and how we should operate as human beings in the workplace.

Take the time to establish small steps in your goal toward clarity. Talk to your employees – and listen. Really listen.

The bottom line is that clarity reduces guessing.

That’s a deeply human workplace.

Learn more about cultivating clarity on your team – access a complimentary peek at chapter 1 of The Deeply Human Workplace:

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