COMMUNICATING AT YOUR BEST
Has it ever occurred to you that you’re communicating all the time? Emails, phone calls, Zoom or Teams meetings. Most of us are probably doing more obvious communication than we ever imagined. But communication is about so much more. We’re communicating our facts and expressed viewpoints when we write and when we speak.
COMMUNICATING AT YOUR BEST
But what about our unexpressed feelings, emotions and opinions? These ooze out of us with the tone of every word we utter, through every sideways glance, in sighs, or when we flick the camera off in meetings. These unspoken communication cues are as important as the things we say.
At The Innovation Beehive we have strived to create an environment where all forms of communication are encouraged, where we trust each other to share our honest views, where openness and transparency enable us to support each other however we need, and where we show empathy and understanding of feelings and emotions so that these can be shared openly when needed. We don’t claim to be perfect, but by resolutely focusing on our communication, we know we’re stronger.
Because communication is a vital part of working in a team and as leaders, it is something we need to focus on.
Utopia: Communication at its Best
Over many years I have seen great communication, from amazing speakers at Conferences to the way a bar manager inspires her team at the start of a shift. Every brilliant piece of communication I’ve seen has had one thing in common respect: for audiences, employees, managers, customers and stakeholders. The best communication happens when every party has a mutual respect for what the others can bring to the table.
In teams, it is important to build respect into the way we communicate. This means agreeing structures and building a culture to foster effective communication. People need to know what is acceptable and where the lines lie. This avoids confusion and enables a more cohesive, respectful, and reliable way of communicating, strengthening relationships and productivity.
When communicating with your team it is important to give them a chance to share their feelings, concerns or possible distractions going on outside of work. Known as a Check in, each team member shares their mindset for that day. Sharing personal or outside distraction relives pressure and allows team members to focus more on the job at hand.
Teams must also have a chance to “Check-up” a more formal check to see what team members are doing that day. Projects they are working on, jobs they need to finish or goals they wish to achieve before the end of the week.
Both forms of Checks are important as they allow team members to communicate openly and realign on what they have going on for that day or week.
Having clear, consistent communication is critical for any team. Terri Kelly, CEO at W L Gore has two strong consistent messages she shares: the need for innovation and getting the right talent in place. Her role as CEO was pivotal in driving the priorities of the business. By being consistent in her message, she was able to drive the right behaviours and strategy in the entire business.
When is Goes Wrong
Knowing how important communication is, it is vital to know what can make it go wrong.
- Teams confusing a check in and check up
- Team focusing only on transactional, rather than interactional communication
- Team leaders being absent or holding back the facts
- Over reliance on email communication
- Avoiding conflict and difficult conversations
- Lack of empathy to communication
- Lack of consistency
- Lack of transparency and openness
Most teams will display one or two of these bad communication practises. We can all get better at communication.
When communication goes wrong, you will notice a change in the way people interact. Sometimes this is obvious and immediate, other times it is gradual and barely noticeable.
It can lead to feelings of distrust in the team when a lack of communication filters to all part of the business you’ll find this culture of distrust. As we know from last week’s blog, trust is essential for high performing teams. A lack of trust can be toxic and create a spiralling towards total communication breakdown.
Poor communication can reduce employee engagement, resulting in a lack of interest towards the business, detachment from their jobs, and poor performance. Having an emotional connection to the purpose of the business and their roles is essential to performance and is driven by communication.
Employees wellbeing can also face scrutiny, lack of communication can make teams unhappy, enforcing a belief that they not valued. They may start to question their position within the company as well as their responsibility. Elevated stress and loss of confidence can also be a root cause attributed to communication.
Your customers will start to feel it too, employees feeling left out or unvalued may start to push that feeling on to customers. This will have an immediate effect on customer retention and a long-term impact on your bottom line.
So What Can You Do?
As a leader of a team the burden of great communication rests on your shoulders. Encourage your teams to communicate effectively. Build structures and the culture to foster effective communication. Be sure to role model the desired behaviours that you want to see in your team.
Most importantly be vigilant and ready to call out and address poor communication before it becomes a systemic issue.