Close the Loop

Even the best managers sometimes fail in one aspect of their communications. 

But first, let’s talk about what they do well.

  • One, they communicate purpose, letting people know what the organization believes and how their contributions matter.
  • Two, they make vision and mission tangible. Their management behaviors reinforce what the organization is trying to achieve.
  • Three, they listen to their people. They pay attention and listen with intention.

All these steps are positive.

What managers forget

What do good managers – all of them well-intended – forget to do?

Close the loop!

Closing the loop means letting people know when and why vital decisions have been made.

Very obvious–and so apparent–it’s not always communicated.

The backstory

For example, good managers solicit the input of others when discussing important issues. Good managers encourage a healthy debate. Wisely they often speak last so as not to influence the discussion. (This practice avoids “going along with the boss” syndrome.)

At the same time, the boss may solicit advice on a course of action from individuals one at a time—all well and good.

So here’s what happens. The decision is made, and people who have contributed to that decision are not informed.

This habit makes people feel left out and in the cold.

What managers should do

A manager who solicits ideas is under no obligation to act upon those ideas. 

However, what she is obligated to do is thank others for their suggestions. Then let them know who made the decision and why it was made. 

We call this “closing the loop.”

Closing the loop does three essential things: 

  • One, it communicates the decision and reason for it; and 
  • Two, it affirms the value of the person who made the suggestion. 
  • Three, it lets them know their input is valued and will be sought again.

Closing the loop makes employees feel included and valued and crucial to the team.

First posted on 4.22.2022