What Hat Are You Wearing?

Have you ever heard your staff muttering, "I don't know where he is coming from!" This is very common– and the more roles the owner has in a company, the more opportunity there is for miscommunication to occur.

If you are the owner of a small business with minimal staff and no middle management, you may undertake many differing roles within the company– worker on the shop floor, customer services, sales, accountant, manager and, if you get time, leader and owner / director.

When you approach staff to discuss something about the business with them, are you causing them stress and confusing them simply because they do not know "where you are coming from"? Have you set the scene properly in their mind so they can concentrate on what you are saying or asking? Have you let them know what "hat" you are wearing when you approach them?

Are you a fellow worker who is seeking input and advice on the best way to solve a technical issue?

Are you the salesperson requesting help to satisfy a client's special request?

Are you the manager who is having a performance review with a staff member?

Are you the accountant who is doing an "audit" due to a fall in margins?

Are you the owner who is talking with them from a strategic level?

Taking a minute or two to think about what role you are approaching them from AND letting them know the role you are taking reduces their stress. It also gives them a clear understanding of how they may respond without crossing the boundaries of acceptable conduct. Choose the "hat" you are wearing, advise your staff what "hat" it is and be clear about the interaction you are seeking.