Over coffee, a young founder recently asked me why it is that her employees come to her with every little question — all the time. She made it clear in the interview process that she doesn’t want to micromanage anyone. That she trusts them to make the right decisions. And that she only wants to be consulted if the employee either thinks her input could make a difference or the stakes are really high. And yet — her team still shows up at her desk all the time.
The challenge with communications is that you need to repeat the message. Again and again. If you want to establish culture (and that’s what this is — our founder craves a culture of empowered individuals making independent decisions) you need to “walk your talk” — and do so again and again.
I told her that I would send the employees away the next time they come asking — tell them what your parameters are for when you want them to come to you and every time they show up outside those boundaries give them a friendly nudge, tell them “I trust you to make the best possible decision” and send them on their way. If you repeat this often enough — they will understand that you actually mean it; that when you say that you want them to make their own decisions you don’t just say the words but truly want it.
Messages need to be repeated. In the same words. Again and again. Ad Nauseam.