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Make sure actions match your words

One great problem most managers and entrepreneurs have is their use of words. They just have trouble matching words with action. Words are so glib and really mean nothing unless matched with true action.

One of my entrepreneurial clients tells his employees that they need to be more (and more!) frugal and then he shows up in a new Porsche. There is nothing wrong with having a new Porsche, however, the message it conveys is not a good one. Another entrepreneur insists that his employees show up at precisely 8 o’clock in the morning, whereas he sleeps late and rarely shows up before 10.

Finally, there is the entrepreneur who says he cares about his staff and then cuts the dental insurance, a benefit they had received for 10 years without any notification.

Leaders are going to be constantly challenged to make sure their actions match their words. The slightest deviation from their words will dilute and destroy the message. So often I see what I call “fad of the month.” Fad of the month exists when entrepreneurs push one thing for a while and then completely forget about it and move on to something else. Unfortunately, employees quickly learn that their leader’s actions and words do not match, so they simply tune out their bosses’ words.

One thing to help remedy this common problem is to allow action to speak for you, not the words. If you want employees to show up at 8 a.m., then you need to be there by 7 a.m., if you do not have another meeting, and stay late. If you want employees to be frugal with expenditures, then your office needs to be nice, but not overdone. If you want employees to focus on sales, then you need to put a sales incentive in place to encourage this.

Another major thing you can do about this problem is just to make sure you limit the number of initiatives you have in place. If you focus and keep the number of initiatives limited, your actions will follow your words. However, if you have a myriad of initiatives, then your attention in going to get diluted and things are going to drop off the radar screen and that will destroy your credibility. Limiting the number of initiatives really helps you to stay focused and helps your employees know that you mean what you say.