Imagine for a moment one of your staff members (any one will do…). You allocate them a task, and in your mind you have a certain expectation of what the end result will you look like. Lets say you have asked them to write a brief research report on new sustainable material options for a new project you are currently bidding on.

They come back to you on Friday with an 8 page report, and start talking you through it with confidence, sure that they have met your expectations and even exceeded them. You sit silently for a moment in dismay. To start with you can’t believe the amount of time that this employee has put into this task. You were expecting a 1 page summary, and you got 8!!!

How on earth did this happen. You start to have thoughts that perhaps this employee is not really suited to your business. They are wasting time going into a level of detail that is really not required. You immediately think that the employee just does not ‘get it’ and perhaps it is time for them to move on.

But lets think about this scenario a little more. At the core of it is a mismatch of expectations. You wanted 1 page, they gave you 8. Did you tell them you only wanted one page, or did you expect that they should know exactly what you wanted. On the flip side, did the employee ask some good questions to ensure they truly understood the task.

This type of scenario happens frequently – we ask for one thing, and we get back something else. And what does this cost you, the business owner?

Assume this employee is being paid $60 per hour, and spent about 20 hours putting their report together. Here are a just a few costs below:

– The cost of doing a whole lot of unnecessary work – $60 X 20 =  $1200

– The cost of re-work (another 3 hours to condense their 8 pages down to 1 – $120)

– Perhaps missing a new business opportunity due to the delay caused by the rework and not meeting a clients deadline – this amount could be thousands and thousands of $$$$$$$, or more!

– The demotivation of that staff member as they quietly tell all other staff members about how difficult you are as a manager! – if they start to work at a slower rate and their tasks start to take double the time, again this will cost you thousands and thousands of $$$$$

– The follow on effect from the power of influence that your now demotivated staff member has over other staff members – cost unknown, but huge!

– If that employee leaves, or if you fire them, the cost of re-employment (agency fees, retraining) – thousands of $$$$

The total cost to you of poor communication (as it relates to the above scenario) could be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands…and that would be a conservative estimate!

Before we think poor performance is a result of  lack of skill or inability to perform, lets first look at how people are communicating with each other. Not always, but often, there is a way forward that involves better communication on the part of the manager as well as the employee.

Next post, we will look at some potential solutions that could help with the above scenario.

We have a range of learning programs for teams and individuals that can help employees and managers to be more effective communicators, and consulting solutions that can help your team to lift their performance