EditorialsLeadership

Simplicity is a winning formula

We’ve all heard the expression KISS: “Keep it simple stupid.” The point? If you can get your message across in a sentence don’t use a paragraph. KISS applies to all aspects of life, including the business world.

To best lead your team, edit directions to essential information — what’s necessary to get the job done. Review the crucial data and required tools, but don’t dive into extraneous topics. Excessive details may only confuse the process.

Verbal directions
In the spirit of simplicity, let’s use a basic building example to demonstrate how simple, pro-active verbal instructions can minimize misunderstandings and increase productivity:

  • The big picture is that we’re going to build a 2-mile fence along Highway 29
  • Today’s goal is to build the next half mile in the project
  • Materials have been placed at intervals along the fence path
  • We will break for a 30-minute lunch at noon
  • Completion is scheduled for 4 p.m.
  • Before we get started, do you have the tools you need? What other questions can I answer?
  • I will be available here or near all day — you have my number.

Written communications
The same KISS strategy works for written communications. My favorite? Bullet points. Short descriptors as opposed to long-winded paragraphs keep readers engaged and informed. Again, keeping communication simple can help clarify and streamline any business process.

KISS is also worth considering when building a resume or mentoring someone in this critical career aspect. For example, I recently came across a three-page, single-spaced, small-font resume. Very few recruiters, who are scanning scores of resumes, will take the time to read three pages.

A resume is your advertising flyer so it needs to quickly sell your key skills and background. Headlines and highlights in one intentional, immaculate page can garner just enough interest. An interview is the time to discuss experience in detail.

Consider the “end user”
When you communicate “up the ladder” in business, overly complex communications can become a turn off instead of a successful sales pitch. It’s important to consider the end user — who’s hearing, reading or digesting this content?

My dishwasher instruction manual is a model case of excess: It’s 24 pages of microscopic type. There’s probably enough information for me to build my own dishwasher. And guess where the operational instructions are located? Page 24.

When communicating with your team, think about how frustrated you feel going through an unwieldy appliance manual. It’s up to you to guide the communication. Any good idea can be communicated on one page. My team always knew one page was the limit. Details come later, once the idea is accepted.

As a general rule, leaders should put both written and verbal communication in the simplest possible context. KISS — keep it simple stupid — is the smartest way to earn respect from your team.

published by the Nashville Business Journal

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