Wednesday October 2, 2013
It’s important to address what exactly people mean when they tick the ‘communication’ option. A common misconception is that citing communication as something to improve means employees require more information. More often than not this isn’t the case, with the reasoning often quite specific to the individual. For some it’s about the information not being delivered in a way they can relate to. Others may feel information is hidden away or restricted therefore do not feel properly informed about what matters most to them. Therefore it’s important that should communication come up as an improvement area, leaders dig down to discover the root cause and then put clear actions in place.
Whilst our book gives lots of great tips for improving communication, especially in terms of changing from one-way to two-way, here are three easy to implement tips to ensure your communications aren’t your downfall:
Just as people learn in different ways – through reading, seeing, hearing or doing – the same happens with communication. In fact communication and learning are more closely linked than is generally believed; communication is often learning although in a more unstructured manner. Personalised communications are known to have a much higher engagement rate, therefore understanding how each person in your team absorbs communication and adapting to suit is important. For example, if someone prefers reading, use email or text. If they are auditory, pick up the phone or have a face-to-face meeting. Adapting to their learning style wherever possible means your message has a greater chance of being understood and remembered.
Some people are motivated by the ‘big picture’, using an overview to understand the reasoning behind a project or business strategy perhaps, even if they’re not directly involved. These people like to be kept informed, however they don’t need all of the detail to ‘get it’. Keep things outcome focused, short and bullet pointed – they want to absorb quickly and ask questions later if necessary.
Other people, however, need the exact specifics – right down to the minutiae. This is perfect for those in a high detailed role, for example project management or technical. When communicating with these people include all of the information. They also like to receive in a structured way so use tables or timelines to explain the information.
Make sure you know the preferences of your team and adapt your communications to suit – going the other way could result in disengagement.
Open and honest
People become naturally uneasy when they feel information is being kept from them without good reason. This can then lead to rumours starting and before long these have morphed into something very different to the original information. Obviously some information does need to be kept private, however try to encourage an open and honest environment and establish trust amongst your people. Consider setting up a single place where your people can get information on the latest projects and initiatives within your organisation.
How do we do it?
Here at Purple Cubed, all of our people take psychometric tests which are shared across teams. These give us a clear understanding of each individual’s preferred learning style and also helps us to understand whether they’re a ‘big picture’ or ‘high-detail’ kind of person. We use this information where possible to adapt communication between one another to give us the best effect.
We also have a shared system folder that contains specifications for projects, reports and internal financial details that are available for all our people to access. Nothing’s hidden away or secret unless absolutely necessary and we can all get the information we desire for ourselves – it works for us.
What methods do you use to communicate effectively to your people?