Leading your team effectively is an art that involves a unique combination of leading, managing, developing, anticipating, and most importantly communicating. Great leadership starts with effective communication skills in the workplace.
Technology has fueled the on-demand expectation that leaders are available to the company for consult 24/7. This never-ending access can quickly create overloaded and overwhelmed employees and managers. The demands are coupled with overarching company goals and increased expectations which move along with subtle market changes or chatter on social networks. Effective professional communication skills are essential in an age where things change within minutes is essential to staying ahead of the curve.
While business expectations and the speed at which we must flex and communicate have changed, our employees remain our most valuable organizational asset. Effective communication in the workplace is essential for their success and growth. Things like team dynamics and work expectations must be communicated, understood and re-communicated.
Focus on Organizational Communication. If you are company leader, communication and a unified brand, starts from the top down, sideways and over and the bottom up; and sometimes that communication occurs all at once. Organizational communication is essential, but the old-school corporate communication model is gone and consistently changing. Top-down announcements, doctrines and decrees are no more. Engagement and a two-way dialogue is key. According to Harvard Business School in May of 2012, 92 percent of business leaders admitted that internal communication strategies were currently in flux. Has your organizational communication or even department communication strategy changed for the better?
Ask Your Team. Sometimes the simplest answer to improve organizational communication is the easiest. Sit down with your department or team in a focused group meeting and ask for what communication methods works best. Be open to a variety of channels including mobile messaging with text, email, instant messaging, in person meetings and phone calls. Follow up with an online survey and allow for employees to share opinions anonymously. Honest feedback is honest. Try not to take their opinions personal. Your purpose is to improve workplace communication for your team and be an effective leader, and that doesn’t necessarily equate to a well-liked leader.
Create Boundaries. Whether it’s for you or your team, build communication systems to help you organize your life. It could be as easy as setting email rules to help filter out the noise or hiring a personal assistant to run errands or organize your life. Family and personal time is especially important to my team. They work hard and should enjoy their time away from work. Boundaries, trust, and a solid communication plan allow for work to get done while they enjoy time off.
Set Expectations & Stay Consistent. It’s hard to keep up with the game if the communication rules continue to change. Managers must effectively communicate to set clear expectations either through personal one-on-one meetings with individual team members on a minimum monthly basis. If a process has changed, take time to explain the why. This allows for a bigger picture understanding and how exactly the change will impact themselves as an individual, their time, the team, and the organization.
Schedule Time Together. Teams who engaged outside of formal work meetings were not only more engaged but productive at work. MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that when call center employees took work breaks together, their efficiency improved by 20 percent and employee satisfaction increasing by 10 percent. Communication is not always formal. Sometimes organization communication spawns from the energy and conversation within the team outside of the workplace that drives improvements in communication, engagement, and the flow of work. The important thing is to regroup and re-communicate it within the group when back in that office setting.
Improving your communication skills as a leader is a soft skill that can be learned and starts with those managers who can observe, adapt and are focused on the dynamic of a great team. It is easily assessed as part of an employee performance review, pre-employment hiring assessment, or when creating your manager pipeline for future positions.
Unfortunately, when it comes to improving your company or team’s communication strategy there is no-one-size-fits-all solution. Each team is unique. Managers can take cues from the members of their organization through informal and formal means before implementing a customized communication strategy.