Why Lack of Clarity is Taking our People Away, and What We Can Do About It

Nov 02, 2021

Last week, we touched on how the lack of clarity on communication can massively impact hiring and retention rates. Today, we take a step back and get a panoramic view of how clarity affects our organization as a whole. 

In this episode, we explore and measure clarity's massive impact. We go through the five main reasons why lack of clarity causes our staff to leave us. Throughout this journey, we point out what can be identified as a lack of clarity, how it affects our teams, and most importantly, what we can do to revert these situations. 

Today's show is an invitation to revise how clear we are within our organizations, with our team leaders, the different departments, and evaluate how consistently that clarity is being shown. 

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • True clarity is a gamechanger. Its impact goes beyond what we were expecting initially (4:41)
  • No clarity in measurement. People need to know how a good job looks like (6:40)
  • No specific and sincere feedback on results. Even when they know the job is well done, specifics and honesty about what can be done better is always welcomed (8:52)
  • Even when a company has a clear vision, every department must show it equally and consistently (12:44)
  • People need to be seated in the right seat. Why the proper role for the right person is crucial (14:35)
  • Celebrating wins is crucial. Be specific. General praises are good, but specific celebrations are better (16:09)


  • Book: Jim Collins - Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

Let's Connect!


Clint Hoopes:

This is the Flavor of Leadership podcast. I am your host, Clint Hoopes. Together, we explore the unique blend of leadership wisdom that helps top leaders consistently achieve work goals, develop personally, and find fulfillment with family. Let's get started.

This is episode number 53. Just starting out today, just wanted to say thank you for all of you that have taken the time to leave a review on Apple Podcasts. It is so helpful to the show. So appreciative. Thank you.

If you haven't left a review yet, please, I'd so appreciate if you'd head on over to Apple Podcasts, leave a review. Makes all the difference in helping people find the show. So thanks.

Also, I appreciate all of you that have sent in show topics, ideas, and questions, as that helps me make sure that I am sharing the content that is relevant to you. So if you have a great show idea, or a question that you'd love to have on the show, please email me directly at [email protected] Can't wait to see them.

So getting onto the show today. Today, we are going to talk about five of the reasons that you are losing your people due to lack of clarity. All right? So five of the reasons you are losing your people due to lack of clarity. But first, before we get into the five reasons, let's go ahead and to talk a little bit more about clarity first.

It's been a number of years ago now, but I remember the first time that I went to the eye doctor as an adult. And I remember I was sitting in graduate school, first off, and I found myself not being to read the board very well without sitting on one of the front rows. I'm not exactly sure what happened. I mean, I'd been in school for years at that point. I'd already been through all elementary school, high school, and my first four years of college, and now I'm in graduate school. And I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I found that ... man, I thought maybe it was the board, maybe I was too far away from the board, farther than I've been in the past. I don't know. Maybe it was the room or teacher was writing small. I didn't know what it was. But I just couldn't see the board as well.

And so I went home and talked to my wife for a little bit, and just said, "This is kind of weird. Lately, I've just noticed that I can't see as well." So I went and we did some little at-home eye tests. So my wife would hold something up for me to read across the room. And I'd open both eyes, then close one eye, then close the other eye. And, man, honestly, after just a couple minutes, I found that my eyes were not quite as good as I had always thought. I could get around. It wasn't like I couldn't see much. But they just weren't quite as sharp as I thought they were.

So I set an appointment for the eye doctor. Went in. And sure enough, I did need a little bit of correction with my eyes. So soon I was picking out some glasses. And they got them all made for me. And I went to the store to go pick them up and put them on. And I'm telling you, after I put them on ... so some of you may be able to relate, that were a little older when you had your first pair of glasses; if you have them. And it was pretty amazing. All of a sudden, the whole world seemed like it was in HD. It was crazy. It was high definition. And I'd look at text and signs, and they were super sharp. And I couldn't believe the difference. It was pretty amazing, actually. I don't remember ever being able to see that clearly.

So it was pretty funny, actually. As I was leaving the store, I was walking out and I was just looking around at everything. I'm like, "This is so fun. It's so clear." And before I knew it, I was nearly on the ground, falling on my face. I had been so distracted just looking around at everything that was so crystal clear now, that I had forgotten to look down, and nearly fell on my face as I tripped over a curb.

It was pretty funny, looking back. At the moment, I was looking around thinking, "Oh man, I hope no one saw me." Which, obviously people did. As I recall, I think somebody may have even come up and wanted to make sure I was okay. It was pretty bad.

But the reality is, true clarity is a game changer, being able to see clearly. You almost didn't even realize it, you thought you knew pretty well. But true clarity is a game changer.

So, for me, not only was school better, but other parts of my life improved in ways that I wouldn't have even thought. I could see the notes on my piano music more clearly. I've mentioned before that I play the piano. And man, it was funny, all of a sudden I could see the notes better. I was like, "Great. I love this." Also, I found out something else: my eyes were not as tired at the end of the day, from work or school, or whatever I was doing at the time. I really wasn't expecting that. I was thinking, "Wow, I didn't realize how hard my eyes were working to keep me going."

And so I found that clarity, with my eyes, it had a halo effect that impacted other parts of my life. And I believe that clarity at work, and clarity in other parts of our lives, will also have a halo effect and impact other things that we didn't think of around it.

And so that's what we're going to talk about today, we're going to talk about clarity and these five reasons we're losing our people. Last week we talked about how clarity and communication can make your employees want to stay. And today we're going to dive even deeper into that, with these five reasons. So, without further ado, the five reasons you are losing your people due to lack of clarity. And also, what you can do about it.

So the first one is this: if you have no clarity in measurement. This is one of the main things that will cause your people to leave and to be unhappy. We've talked about this on multiple different podcasts, people need to know what a good job looks like. You've likely heard me say that over and over again. And you'll hear me say it on many of the podcasts going forward, because it is so foundational to having happy employees. People have to know what a good job looks like and they need to know how they're being measured. If people don't know how they're being measured in their job, they won't ever be quite sure if they're doing their job right or not. They won't be ever quite sure if you're happy with the job they're doing or not. They won't know what you want or you need.

And so, depending on the role within the company, measurement, it can get more complicated or less complicated. So there are some roles that are just really easy to measure. We talk about sales. We give sales as one of the easiest examples of things to measure. How many actual sales? Or if someone is just getting started in sales it might be a little different, it might be how many contacts are you making? It might be some other measure that helps them know, "Okay. Am I doing a good job? And what are you expecting?"

And these measurements can change. They don't have to be the same forever. But they need to be clear. And the employee needs to know exactly what they are and exactly when they're going to be measured, over what time period, all of those different things. Complete clarity and measurement.

So we're not going to go into a lot of the different details of how to measure. Because you may be thinking right now, "Oh, I have an employee. Their role is so difficult to measure. I don't even know how I'm going to do it. This may not apply to them." And I'm telling you, "Yes, it does apply to them." Almost especially, does this apply to them. Because they probably think the same thing, "Oh, mine's hard to measure." And so they might be unhappy already. Because if you're unsure of how to measure them, then they probably also are confused.

So we've already had a whole podcast episode on this. It was actually one of the first episodes, episode number two, and we go into extreme detail about the six steps to better measurement. So if you're not sure how you want to set this up with your people, go back to episode number two, listen to that, and you will find a way to measure every one of your people.

All right. Number two: if you don't have any specific or sincere feedback on their results. So this is a little bit different than just the measurement. The first one is you have to have a way to measure them. Number two is: you may actually already have the measurement, but you don't give them specific and sincere feedback on results. Whether it's one of the items that was being measured, or if it was maybe some other part of their job that they just need feedback on. Whether it's positive or negative, it must be specific and it must be sincere. Because if you don't have both of those pieces, specific and sincere, the feedback will not be received well and in the right light. And the positive feedback won't have the impact you want, nor the negative feedback.

So employees can feel when you're not satisfied. They know. Even without you saying anything, they know that you're not quite happy with the job they did. Maybe they're not receiving the feedback from you directly with your words, but you are giving them clear feedback through your actions or just the way they can feel it. And so if you don't give them that clear feedback on how they're doing, then they'll be able to interpret that any way they like.

I had an employee once tell me that they could tell that I was not happy about their performance on the assignment that I had given them. And they just asked that I tell them exactly where they could improve. And in my mind I was thinking, "Well, they did an okay job. Do you know what? Yeah, I'm just going to let it slide this time and we'll talk about it later."

And this employee obviously saw that I wasn't happy and it wasn't exactly what I thought. And so they actually asked me. And man, I felt pretty sheepish to be honest with you. But I was so grateful for the employee because they taught me a great lesson, and they got the specific feedback that they wanted.

And so, in the end, I realized, "Man, I should be the one that should be proactively looking to give that feedback, not to be a nitpicky micromanager boss." Because that's not the way you do it. You set the expectations and then give clear feedback.

So with that employee, we had a great conversation after that, where I gave very specific feedback to the employee. And guess what? They fixed it immediately. And it was great. And they were so grateful because then I gave them specific feedback, as far as the positive results as well, and told them, "Thank you for doing such a great job." And I was able to give them very specific and sincere feedback on those things.

Often, we hear the saying, "praise in public and criticize in private". And I think that is true, nearly every time. And so, especially when you have managers, if you're a leader that has a lot of managers, you really want to make sure also that you don't criticize those managers in front of their people, people that they manage. That is another one that just shows a lack of respect. So make sure you don't do that. You can do a lot of harm that way.

We're also going to be covering this part, about giving criticism and giving both positive and negative feedback, we're going to be covering this in a future episode coming pretty soon. And so we'll go into even greater detail about this. Because it's not just on these big items, sometimes they're more intangible items or feedback you need to give on soft skills. And that can be delicate. It can be very delicate. But if you're trying to help people reach their next level of performance, it's what they want. The great people want it. And so we're going to talk about how to deliver that feedback, which will also help you retain people and keep them happy longer. Giving them that feedback at the proper time does just that.

So number three: mediocre communication of the overall vision and their place in that vision. So even when a company has extremely clear vision or direction, maybe the top leaders have very clear vision and direction, but perhaps that vision direction isn't getting out equally to all of the different departments or groups within the company. Maybe there are a few departments that are portraying that vision well to everyone else. And there are others that aren't. And so making sure that the entire company has that clarity of vision is pivotal.

And so maybe you though, maybe you're one of these departments. Maybe you lead a department. You may have to make sure that you have clarity from your leaders. And then you can, in turn, make sure that your people have the same vision.

Also, just the vision that you have for that specific department, that also needs to be clear. And people want to know not only what the vision is, but how they fit into that vision. Everyone wants to know they have a future with the company. And having a clear vision helps them know what their future is with the company. And they can know if they want to be around to stay with that. Even a role that's maybe a first job for somebody, and maybe they won't be around for life, but people want to know they have a future. And the future might only be 1, 2, 3 years out. And that's okay, depending on the company. Other companies, you're hoping to keep people for life, or for many years at least. And so helping people with this vision will make all the difference.

Number four: they have a role that is not played to their strengths, or that they feel does not have much impact. Those are big ones. If people feel like their role is not playing to their strengths, they just don't feel like they're making the impact that they can. And that goes to the other part, where they feel that their actual role just doesn't have an impact in general; just even what the content of the role is.

Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great ... which we've talked about in the past ... gives the illustration of the company being a bus. And says that, "People need to be in the right seat on the bus in order to succeed and to thrive in their role." So, meaning, people need to be in the right role in order to thrive, so they need to be in the right seat.

And we have to remember that it is you, as the leader, that is the driver of this bus. And it is your role, your responsibility, to put people in that right seat. If you don't put them in the right seat, guess what will happen? They will leave. The good ones that you don't want to leave, will leave. Because you were not putting them in the right place and in a role, and giving them tasks and giving them responsibilities that played to their strengths. So this is a continuous process. You are never done as the leader in doing this, in constantly reviewing and making sure people are in the right seats.

So number five: lack of specific appreciation and celebration. All of us need to know that we did a good job when we did it. And we need to celebrate the wins. And so when you are very appreciative to your people and you celebrate with them in a very specific way, they will feel it. General praise is good. But for real impact, make it specific.

So, to review, here are the five reasons you are losing people due to lack of clarity: no clarity measurement, no specific and sincere feedback on results, mediocre communication of the overall vision and their place in that vision, they have a role that does not play to their strengths or they feel does not have much impact, or you have a lack of specific appreciation and celebration. These are five of the main reasons that you are losing your people due to lack of clarity.

So if your employees do not feel clarity around these things, when a better option comes along they are much, much more likely to move on to a new job. And like we were saying above, this is most true of your best people; the ones you don't want to lose. So get clear around these items.

So if you're listening to this and you're feeling like, "Oh my goodness, I have tried to do this in the past, I have tried to improve in these areas in the past, and I have failed. And failed to make the impact that I wanted to make." Or you're saying, "Man, you know what? This is really good. And I really just need some additional ideas and feedback directly for me and my business."

And if this is you, saying, "Man, I have not been able to make the impact I want in the past," or, "I need some additional ideas and feedback directly from me in my business," I can help. I can help. As I mentioned recently, I have opened some spots up for my one-on-one coaching consulting services. So please email me directly at [email protected] We can set up a time to dive in together, make a huge impact. My email address, and these five reasons, are all in the show notes.

So, you got this. And remember, you are not alone in this. I'm here with you. Until next week.

Thanks for joining me on this week's episode of the Flavor of Leadership podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard, please share it with a friend. And if you haven't already, subscribe, rate and review the show on your favorite podcast player.

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback for us, you can reach me directly at flavorofleadership.com. Thanks for listening.