Jorge Pedraza suggests that "Framer's Win". Specifically, he says that "Communication is largely about framing. It is said that “facts speak for themselves.” But the truth is that people who help frame the facts are the most effective in communicating" (1) and will be the most successful during interviews and in the first 100 days in a new position.
Of course communication is not a competitive sport. It's a collaborative effort. Communication sent has no value until it is received. Framers only win if the framing helps the audience understand.
Great communicators know how to choose or create the right context or frame for their messages. This can be choosing a large group versus a one on one situation, a casual circumstance versus a formal one. Or it can be the simple act of framing a message or a conversation: “I think this makes most sense if you look at it in the context of optimizing resources.” Or alternatively, it can be setting the mood for a talk, conversation, or event by using humor, empathy, or other connective tactics. Large and small, literal circumstance or verbal context, we communicate in a context that is either chosen or created by us, or simply given.
The more you develop an awareness of how context or frame conditions the meaning and the reception of messages, the more effective your communications will be. It starts by observing carefully how context and frame are affecting communications in general, then noting carefully how masterful communicators manage it, and then by developing the skill.
The importance of the leadership skills of framing
This is why simplifying frameworks are so important in onboarding and why the ability to develop them and use them is an essential leadership skill, especially during transition management. Almost by definition, there's a lot of communication flowing in a lot of different directions at the same time. Frameworks help communication senders and receivers sort through the cacophony and find the nuggets with the most value at any particular moment.
Frameworks in the new edition of "The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan"
As we're thinking through the 3rd edition of our book, I've been concentrating more and more on frameworks to help simplify communication. Take the Only Three Interview Questions as an example of the evolution of my thinking on frameworks.
- I originally came up with the strengths, motivation, fit framework when I was coaching Wharton MBA students on how to improve their interview performance (a very long time ago).
- For the first edition of The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan, we showed people how the Gallup definition of strengths (talent + knowledge + skills) could help understand and communicate strengths.
- For the second edition, we layered in the "Good" theory of happiness to help people understand and communicate motivation.
- For the third edition, we're adding a BRAVE framework to help people understand and communicate fit.
We then took the BRAVE framework and crossed it with a situation assessment to come up with a 2 x 2 matrix that informs ACES – another framework which helps leaders assess how quickly to initiate change.
- If the situation does NOT call for urgent change, and the organization is OPEN to change, Assimilate in ("A" in ACES). The organization will change when it needs to.
- If the situation does NOT call for urgent change, and the organization is NOT open to change, Converge and Evolve slowly. ("C" and "E" in ACES). You need to help the organization get ready for the change that is coming eventually.
- If the situation calls for URGENT change, and the organization is OPEN to change, Converge and Evolve quickly. The organization needs your help, and everyone's help in making the change happen.
- If the situation calls for URGENT change, and the organization is NOT open to change, Shock it. ("S" in ACES). They won't change without you pushing them – hard.
These are just two examples. In each chapter and appendix, I'm trying to apply an existing framework that helps people understand the idea. If they don't exist, we're creating them.
Implications for your onboarding process
You can do this, particularly if you are onboarding into a new role or onboarding someone in to work for you. Find and leverage simplifying frameworks to make it easier for everyone to win.
What frameworks do you find helpful?
(1) From the appendix on Communication in The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan