Enjoy this excerpt from our new book, Healthy Leadership.
One of our clients, Cindy Lewis, is Executive Chairperson of AirBorn, a manufacturer of high-quality, custom electronics. She uses the “Rule of Six” when clarifying important information, such as the company’s vision.
The idea is that you should not expect team members to fully understand or internalize any message until they hear it repeated at least six times. In Lewis’ words, “After about six repetitions, we find the concept/message moves to long-term memory and then impacts behavior and habits.”
This is not a statement about intelligence, but rather a statement about today’s information-rich, time-poor, change-intensive world of work. Communicating a message at least six times also forces you to change it up to keep it interesting for your audience (who all have different learning styles) while maintaining the integrity of your message.
With today’s data-overloaded, distributed workplace, it can be challenging to decide what to communicate to employees and what to withhold. It’s easy to say (usually to yourself), “My team doesn’t really need to know all that,” or “They won’t really understand,” or “I don’t think they can handle that news right now.”
Be cautious, because those who underestimate the intelligence or wherewithal of others tend to overestimate their own. You must balance discernment with transparency. Discern what to communicate and what to withhold while being transparent with your team to build trust and engagement . . . and clarity.