If you want to create high performance in your business, communication is key. Use these 8 tips to enhance your skills in this area.
Certainly, you can do things like take presentation skills courses, and negotiation training seminars ... in fact they are great skills to learn, and indeed you should fine-tune your skills in these areas, however, without the foundation of principles such as the ones listed below, these negotiation courses and presentation skills seminars are likely to be a waste of money.
High Performance Leaders readily understand that effective, interpersonal and workplace communication really only occurs when the following principles are integrated into their team.
Effective Workplace Communication Happens When People:
- Believe, (and witness), the people they work with (their leaders, peers or reports) acting ethically and honestly - in other words there is trust and integrity
- Know their opinions and ideas are meaningful to the success of the organization
- Feel safe to express their opinions
- Receive information equally and openly
- Are highly trained in the requirements of the business, and able to interpret business information provided to them
- Believe that actions are taken and decisions made with positive intent
- Feel responsibility toward common goals
- Make use of multiple channels and opportunities to interact and provide information
So let's take a look at each of these elements in more detail.
1. Trust And Its Influence On Effective Workplace Communication
The building and maintaining of trust is an on-going process in any organization. Unfortunately it seems to be human nature that people quickly recall the two times you mess up, and forget the 98 times you 'did right'!
People constantly watch the choices and decisions made by their leaders, to gauge how much they can be trusted, and how trustworthy they are. So think, very carefully about the long-term implications of any decision you make, even if it seems like only a minor thing, (for example, slightly bending the truth in a meeting to save face).
When others know that you aren't being 100% honest, it could cause people to wonder "If s/he isn't trustworthy in this small matter I wonder where s/he draws the line". Now, they may not think that consciously but it will definitely be there subconsciously.
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2. People Need To Know Their Opinions Are Valued
One-way communication is a one-way street to disaster. It should be a very rare occasion when you interact with people and not get their input and ideas. The old adage 'two heads are better than one' has stood the test of time... for a reason.
When people can see that their opinions and ideas are valued, used and make a difference they become inspired to contribute more than just their hands and their heads ... you begin to tap into the magic... which is their hearts.
Once you do this and communication is flowing easily, and effortlessly throughout the organization, you are well on the path to high performance.
3. Effective Workplace Communication Only Happens When People Feel Safe
Safety or rather lack of, is one of the prime reasons that communication shuts down ... shuts down fast!
Safety doesn't necessarily mean physical, though it could. Generally, in the work context, safety means a threat to their status, self-worth, career opportunities, employment, (in other words they feel vulnerable in some way).
No matter whether you are speaking one-to-one with someone, or in a group situation, if people feel that their safety is at risk they will either fight or flee...
Fleeing they will clam up. Fighting they will go on the attack, by using sarcasm, aggression etc. I have seen so many union negotiations go south simply because both parties didn't establish a groundwork of safety. Discover more about establishing safety in the training Successful Feedback.
4. Ensure People Receive Information Equally & Openly
One of the basic building blocks in any high performance organization is that information is freely shared. The belief being, that people will make better, and informed, decisions when they have a full picture of the business and its needs.
So many organizations, that are still entrenched in the autocratic leadership model, withhold information fearing that people will ask for higher wages, or might leave the organization (if the news is bad).
My experience has been the direct opposite.
The more you share with people, the more they feel they are a vital link in the business, and its goals. However, this very much is rests on the next point ...
5. People Need to Be Highly Trained
It is a huge mistake to share information with people, and not train them in how to interpret, and make use of, the information. Most organizations are pretty darn good at teaching people the technical skills they need, to do their jobs. Some organizations are fairly good at teaching people the soft skills they need, in order to interact more effectively.
Few organizations do a really good job of teaching people how to think like business owners. This is a real problem.
People need to understand how business works, why capital is important, to have a basic understanding of how the financials work etc.
Communicating this sort of information to people throughout the organization, (because you would be surprised how many leaders don't fully understand the economics of business), is vital. Once people have the knowledge they need, they will make better decisions for the organization.
6. Ensure There is Positive Intent Behind Actions
This slides right in with our first point ... trust. There is a saying, "We judge others by their actions and we judge ourselves by our intent". In other words, most people don't take the time to try to reason out why someone is taking a particular action. And, unless you have spent a lot of time building trust, and rapport, a person is likely to judge ... particularly if your action has a negative impact on them and their goals ... that your intent was not positive.
However, if you have taken the time to build trust and rapport the person is more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, and believe that whilst they may not agree with and/or like your choice, they will be more inclined to believe that you had a positive intent.
Make sure as you make decisions and take actions, that you let others know your intent behind the action. Don't assume they 'get' it. How often have you heard people say things like, 'Of course s/he knows I care for them', when in fact the other person doesn't have a clue.
7. Help Your People Feel Responsibility To Common Goals
Great leaders make sure that everyone in their team understands the goals of the team, and are on board with them ... and if someone isn't 'on the bus' with the goals, they help them find another bus to travel on!
It's okay to recognize that sometimes the wrong choice was made when someone comes into the organization - their personal goals, and the organizational goals aren't a close enough match. When that happens, work together, quickly, to help them find something more closely aligned to their needs.
One of the best leaders I ever worked with, constantly reminded myself, and others, on the team just how important we were as individuals, and collectively, to the success of the team and organizational goals. He communicated regularly, both at an individual and group level, to remind us that without our skills, talents and energy the business just wouldn't be what it was.
8. For Effective Workplace Communication Make Use of Multiple Channels
Everyone learns in different ways - some people like to read, some are visual, some auditory and some are more tactile. Making sure you use multiple methods to get your message across is important. Not only multiple methods, but also multiple times.
I regularly remind my clients that I coach with ... particularly when they are working through a performance issue with someone ... that you cannot expect to hold one conversation with a person and expect the problem to be fixed. Mostly, it just doesn't seem to work that way.
You need to be prepared to consistently, and regularly, communicate your message to others ... repetition is the mother of learning ... so that people know exactly what it is you stand for, want and are focused upon.
These eight tips should help you to think more widely about how to make sure you have effective workplace communication.
If you feel you could round out your knowledge in any of these areas, contact me about one-to-one coaching, or if your budget is limited join the Make A Dent Club and get your hands on the ebooks and resources that round out each of these topics.
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