After surveying hundreds of executive and expanded leadership teams Turbo Leadership Systems has discovered that the number one complaint of managers across the nation is: a lack of COMMUNICATION.

Chelsea, Distribution Center Manager, for a large tire distribution center in Salem, OR, told Session 5b of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):

“We have two warehouses, one in Portland, the second is my location in Salem. We do a daily transfer of products between the two locations. Our computer program generates a list of the products needed for each warehouse. Two weeks ago, I placed an order late in the day for a brand new customer for an item that I knew would not hit the transfer document. To make sure I got the tires I needed so I could keep my commitment to the customer, I emailed my counterpart in the Portland office asking if we could make it happen. She agreed.

“The next morning when I checked the paperwork I discovered that the tires were not transferred. Now, I had to call our new customer and explain to him why he wouldn’t be getting his order until the next week. Boy, was I mad!

“The lesson I learned from this experience is that I need to be crystal clear about what I am asking for, the request I am making, and what I am asking the other person to commit to do.

“The action I call you to take is be crystal clear with your request. Ask for what you want, specify what, when, and why. The benefit you will gain is you will get the help and support you need from others; and you will help your customers succeed.”

How we communicate “in house” determines the level of excellence our external customers’ experience. Poor communication that results in a failure to keep customer commitment keeps us from winning new customers and can chase away current customers.

Here are four guidelines to ensure your requests are understood and promises are kept.

First, understand the goal of your communication. Do you want them to understand new information? Do you want the receiver to do something for you? Is there a deadline? There’s a big difference between requiring action and needing understanding.

Second in your request, state precisely what you need. As indicated above with specificity, when it is needed (with a deadline certain) and why the deadline must be met on time (example: “I promised our new customer we could and would deliver this tire order tomorrow.”).

Third, follow through is as important as your initial crystal clear communication. After you’ve stated your request, ask the listener for a commitment to meet the required deadline (example of the response you are looking for: “I’ll be sure the warehouse guys get the word and the transfer is made today.”).

Finally, accept full responsibility for understanding. When you are the sender it is your job to ensure understanding. It is never acceptable to say, “They didn’t understand.” Instead you must say, “I didn’t make myself clear.”

Crystal clear requests with understood deadlines that elicit promises of fulfillment go a long way toward raising the bottom line.