Are We Clear? [Probably Not]

Discover the Antidote to Tension, Conflict, and Disengagement.

Last month, we talked about some ways in which purpose-alignment has transformed our work needs. Work is no longer a place where we “just” trade time and talents for money; it’s a place where we seek meaning, impact, and contribution. 

One outcome of this transformation is how easily tensions at work rise when teams feel poorly equipped to deliver their best work, inadequately recognized for their efforts, or unfairly penalized for not having all of the information they need to do their job well.

Untreated, these tensions lead to conflict and disengagement. When it comes to delivering work, nothing causes more tension than a lack of clarity—not even being interrupted or having a heavy workload.

Two Kinds of Clarity

In our work with trust-building organizations, we’ve found that TWO kinds of clarity are needed to empower and build trust in your teams. 

  • Strategic clarity is all about the vision and making sure that everyone’s moving toward the same destination.
  • Communication clarity is related to expectations, both long- and short-term, such as “What are my weekly goals?” or “How should we measure success in this context?”

Both types of clarity build on and feed off of each other. Strategic clarity is the throughline, the common motivator for building long-term momentum and informing shorter-term planning. Communication clarity is agile and responsive to daily discoveries, achievements, and challenges, and uses insights gained and lessons learned to inform the vision.

By the same token, neither strategic clarity nor communication clarity can stand alone. Without a uniting vision, daily tasks lack purpose or motivation. Without proper support and resources, employees are less motivated to execute a vision no matter how talented and skilled they are. You need both.

Compounding Clarity: Keep it Visible

One way to make clear communication, well, clear? Make sure everyone has easy and ready access to the information they need. 

Leaders can use the ODC Method (Outcome-Deadline-Clarifiers) for clear communication about both vision and expectations.

  • Outcome: Whether the goal is big or small, this is where you communicate exactly what it is you are looking for.   
  • Deadline: Provide extremely specific information about expectations, including the due date, what is expected, and who contributes.
  • Clarifiers: Empower all sides to drill down for understanding, repeat what has been heard, and get alignment about expectations.

Once the vision and expectations are delivered and discussed, keep them alive by making them visible in ongoing ways. Empower autonomy by making the vision, strategic plan, and expectations easy to find and access. This might also mean incorporating the vision into daily memos, weekly meetings, quarterly calls, or company-wide rallying cries. The more and differently you communicate the same message, the more likely it will be heard, remembered, and acted upon. 

Clarity Requires Attention to Detail 

Unwinding poor work design can be complex. Like renovating a very old house, each attempted improvement can lead to the discovery of even more problems—all of which need to be addressed to properly do the work (and avoid costly fixes later!).

This means you have to pay attention. 

Repairing work processes that have evolved from a lack of clarity, like frequent task switching, isn’t easy. To get you off on the right foot, start with these three actions to begin to bring more clarity—and relief—to your people.

  • Priority alignment. If any one person has more than three priorities, they can’t focus and might as well have no priorities at all. You’re doing it right when priorities echo across all teams.
  • Key roles and responsibilities. Help your team know their key roles and responsibilities so there is zero ambiguity about what is expected from each.
  • Have a meeting structure. Most people hate meetings because they lack structure, but well-run meetings make people feel supported and inspired.

Want to see how clear your priorities are in your organization? In your next meeting, ask everyone to state what their top priority is that week—and then discuss how (or if) it ties to the overall strategic vision. If anyone struggles, it’s a sign that there is work to be done. 

Start and End with Clarity

Clarity is the cornerstone of a productive and harmonious workplace. By ensuring both strategic and communication clarity, organizations can significantly reduce tension, conflict, and disengagement among their teams. Remember, clarity in purpose and expectations not only builds trust but also sets the foundation for effective communication, collaboration, and overall performance.

Reflect on your own workplace: Is there clarity of purpose in your team or organization? Are project expectations and deadlines communicated clearly? Do you have a clear understanding of your daily tasks?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, remember: We gravitate toward what we understand. Start by aligning priorities, defining key roles and responsibilities, and establishing a structured meeting routine. Clarity isn’t just about avoiding confusion; it’s about creating a work environment where everyone feels empowered, focused, and motivated.

Let’s clear the way forward together—one trust-building conversation at a time.  

Leaders who motivate and support their teams with clarity facilitate autonomy, agility, and authority. Our Trust Edge Certification Program gives you access to the tools, training, and a thriving community to help you build a culture of clarity. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, schedule a 15-minute discovery call now and become a member of our Trust Edge Certified Partner Directory.

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