There is no one perfect way to lead. There are leaders that excel because of their impeccable communication skills, their charisma or even the respect their presence demands. But when your leadership techniques aren’t working time and time again, what are you supposed to do? Switch it up. Try new approaches. Fact: No one’s right 100% of the time and if you really truly think you are then working in leadership is likely not the place for you. How do you switch up the way you lead, though?
Communicate in Everyone’s Language
Let’s say you’re a manager in a larger organization and your team consists of 10 people. The likelihood that those 10 people communicate the exact same way you do is extremely low. You could be the type of person that communicates the bare minimum when it comes to direction and it’s likely someone on your team needs much more than that to get started. Or it could be the opposite, you give all the direction possible and a team member really just needs the basics to get the job done.
Adjusting your communication efforts for the different members of your team is crucial to being understood as a leader and supervisor. Gaps in communication are hard on everyone. 64% of dissatisfied workers cite communication failures as the reason for their unhappiness at work. Get to know your employees and recognize the way they take direction, this will give you the ability to customize the way you work with each one.
How to get this done: Find out how each team member works. You can use surveys, or even assessment tools that give you an insight into the way that employee functions. Can’t keep it all straight? Keep a record on your desktop that gives you quick indicators that Cathy needs more direction or John finds emails back and forth to be vague.
Collaborate On New Levels
Now it’s time to take your new found communication knowledge and put it to use while collaborating with employees to get things done. Which would be faster?
1. You sending an email with the directions to a task, your employee sending the task back in an email, you sending back your edits and feedback, them sending another draft, you sending back edits, and so on and so forth... You get the picture.
2. Sitting with that individual, pointing out the correct practice and directions then giving feedback as they go through the task.
The second option, right? 86% of employees and executives attribute lack of collaboration or ineffective communication to workplace failures. Taking the time to sit with employees and talk through a task can do wonders for productivity. Sending emails back and forth is not always the answer, it can become time consuming and monotonous. Yes, this may set your day back a little but making this small sacrifice now will improve productivity for your team in the future. By sitting down and collaborating together, you will be also be able to break down barriers and even learn a few things yourself about processes you may not see everyday.
How to get this done: About to assign a new task to a team member that’s never completed it before? Give verbal directions and take the time to teach and collaborate the first time around that way you’ll be able to clear up any confusion right then and there and they’ll possibly be able to teach new team members that very same thing in the future!
Don’t Let It Cost You
Switching up your leadership practices can be difficult and even time consuming but, rest assured, it is completely necessary. By not doing so, it could cost you good people. In a recent SHRM job satisfaction report, 55% of employees stated that communication between employees and senior management was very important to them. If you communicate often and effectively with your employees, you will be able to bridge gaps and also break down barriers that may be holding you and your team back.
How to avoid this: Don’t wait until the performance review to reevaluate the practices you’ve been using with certain employees. There’s nothing wrong with straight up asking employees if they are understanding the communication tactics you’ve been using.
What are some best practices you use when it comes to finding out how your team members communicate? How do you switch it up for employees who may learn differently? Let us know in the comments!