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Far too often, we think we have to come up with the new big idea to be successful. We feel the need to do things differently, to try new experimental methods, and to reinvent the wheel. We can spend so much time trying to be different and innovative that we lose sight of the basics. We spend so much time focusing on new ways to do the things that have been working for business leaders and entrepreneurs for decades. 

We all know that if we are trying to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we consume. That is the foundation behind weight loss. And instead of doing this, we turn to trendy products and programs. We spend a week drinking spinach juice and being miserable instead of going back to the basics: healthy food and exercise. I’m guilty of this. 

Business is the same way. We know there are a few things that are foundational for a successful business, but we believe the myth that these things are outdated and need to be improved. Well, let me tell you this: communication, accountability, teamwork, and mentorship never go out of style. When you can focus on the basics, you create a business built on a strong foundation. 

This week, this is my challenge for you:

Identify one or two areas where you could go back to basics. What are you putting an extraordinary amount of time or money into that you could scale back and still be productive? 

My friend could have sent me an email. He could have sent a singing clown to my house with balloons. He could have Facetimed me. Instead, he went old school and wrote me a letter, and it dramatically shifted my mood for the entire week. Imagine what going back to the basics could do for your company, your employees, your family, and your life.

I could not order an Uber, make travel plans, figure out that my flight had been moved to the opposite end of the airport, or tell the taxi driver where I needed to go without effective communication. I had to be able to effectively communicate directions and expectations and actively receive the feedback. If my Uber driver got lost, it was probably because of a mix up in communication. If I didn’t know my flight had been moved, it was probably because the change wasn’t communicated effectively. Or maybe I wasn’t listening or paying attention, that’s totally possible too.

Our businesses thrive when everyone communicates. Our companies rise to the next level when leaders pay close attention to how their team members receive feedback and adjust their communication styles appropriately. When businesses suffer, when relationships suffer, the first thing to shut down is communication. Ironically, it’s the one thing we need to focus on to find a solution.

Communication is not just talking; it’s listening. Not just hearing, but listening. My mom used to say the reason we have two ears, and one mouth is because we need to listen twice as much as we speak. When your team is communicating with you, how are you showing them that you are listening?

Action steps to build a team that communicates:

Keep Your Door Open

Keeping your office door open builds trust and is a physical reminder to your team that you are ready and willing to engage in conversation that will get your team to the next level. Model a willingness to listen and watch how your team will follow suit

Create Different Avenues For Communication

Not everyone is comfortable with a face to face conversation, especially if they have an issue or problem. Allow your team to communicate with you (and others) in a way that is most comfortable for them. This could be email, text, phone calls or even a suggestion on a bulletin board in the breakroom.

Follow Up

Sometimes, giving a lot of information all at once can be overwhelming for those who are listening. Get in the habit of following up in writing after a conversation, team meeting or conference call. Break down what was discussed, deadlines, and goals in writing to make sure everyone is on the same page.