When it comes to finding your groove in your relationship with your team members, doesn’t it always feel as though you are just working extremely hard to find that ever-so-perfect balance? Finding that balance of being a strong leader who can walk through the fire with their team, and who can also coach them into being their best selves. Add into the equation a need to comply with company policies, laws and all of the other intricacies of business, and you have a whole lot on your hands.
When you think back to great communication with leaders in your career, what stands out to you? Some words that are likely to come to mind include calm, concise, thoughtful, relatable. So how can you juggle all the requirements of a leader, while still effectively communicating with your team in a meaningful way? We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we can certainly help with some of our best tips. Any culture of coaction must include great communication. Here are five tips to help you along the path to just that!
Asking questions seems obvious, but when you are communicating with others, are you simply awaiting your turn to speak? Are you asking questions to get to the root of what is being communicated?
Some simple questions to have at the ready include:
- What can I do to help you?
- What are you hoping to achieve from this discussion?
- Is there more to the issue at hand than what can be seen on the surface?
- Is there anything else going on in your life today that might help us to understand where you are coming from?
When you stop thinking about your goals for a moment and concentrate on asking questions of the others around you, you are empowering them to feel more heard. You are also helping yourself to navigate a conversation with the most information available.
Be an active listener
Being an active listener and asking questions can go hand-in-hand. When you are asking questions, you have the opportunity to stop and listen to others. You can more easily assess the situation in front of you and recognize barriers that might exist. There are many aspects of being an active listener. Practice being attentive, paraphrasing what others are saying to ensure you understand the message, touch on the feelings others may have in the conversation and sum up the conversation afterward.
“Active listening is not only a matter of making yourself available to hear someone talk, but it is showing the sender, physically, that you are receiving and understanding their message on all levels.” ― Susan C. Young, The Art of Communication: 8 Ways to Confirm Clarity & Understanding for Positive Impact
Active listening benefits everyone in a conversation. Your body language and your focus on the situation at hand should reassure others that you fully understand and hear them. Isn’t that often half the battle to begin with?
Hey you, you over there with the phone in your hand – put it down! Physical barriers that can get in the way of effective communication definitely include phones, computers, laptops, or even doodling on a pad of paper. If your focus appears to be fiddling with your phone, the person you are communicating with will most definitely not feel heard. You might be the best multi-tasker in the state. That does not change the fact that people will feel unappreciated if you have a gadget in front of you that may be stealing focus. Most of us these days keep our phones within arms reach. If that is the case, perhaps even turn your phone upside down on the table. This shows others that you are fully engaged in what is happening around you instead of sneaking moments or glances at your phone.
Create win-win outcomes
Thinking back to the best conversations in my career with leaders, win-win outcomes are the gold standard when I was the happiest with the overall outcome. Often we have to give in situations in business. Instead of pushing your own agenda completely, see areas where you can give a little. Also, look for the sticking points for the person you are communicating with. Sometimes those sticking points are just not an option for the solution. If you can see what is most important to the person you are communicating with, you can find ways to negotiate. Life and business are constant negotiations. How can you continue to show your team that you care about them and you hear them? You can show them these things by showing them you are willing to give in areas that are meaningful to them. You can also show them these things by finding creative solutions. If there isn’t a way to negotiate, maybe there is another area you could give a little to make your team feel that their voice matters.
Being flexible is vital to great communication. What time does your team work? Where does your team work? Where is your team the most comfortable? In thinking about these questions, find spaces where you can help the people you are communicating with feel the most at ease. When people feel at ease, they are more likely to be open and honest with you. If your team works around the clock, visiting the swing shift during their shift is a powerful statement. You are showing them that their time is valuable. The fact that your team was able to meet you when they are already on site will show them that you see them as equals, you care about them and you are also willing to be on site when they are.
Does the HR Office feel like a visit from you means punishment is coming? Then schedule conversations elsewhere. Think of creative ways you can be flexible to make your team feel the most valued, heard and understood. Simple tweaks like this can go so far with your team.
All that being said, to be an effective communicator, you must put others above yourself. Make people feel heard. Think about what you appreciate when communicating with others. Be present. Be focused.