team communication

Team Communication: How to Speak So Your Team Will Listen

Not only listen, but take action, too.

Team communication should be very important to all leaders. Whether speaking to a large group or a small team, there are ways you can engage with your ‘audience’ so that they will not just hear you but actively listen and even take action on what you’re telling them. It’s an art form, really.

Motivating positive reactions versus acting from a place of fear, or worse, disdain. It’s an important skill for leaders to master in order to be effective with their team.

Be genuine and be present

No matter the size of the group, if you speak to all them as if you were speaking to one of them, you’re more likely to get a positive response. It’s not an easy thing to do at first, and will require some practice, but doing it will reap many rewards.

Appearing genuine and human is essential for people to want to take in what you’re saying and, further, act on it. That really only comes if each person in the audience feels as though you are speaking directly to them. Putting on the ‘big shot’ persona isn’t appealing and doesn’t invite others to act on your words. Be real.

Being present is also important: eye contact for smaller groups, body language that is open and receptive, focusing on what is happening in the moment and not fidgeting, fussing or, worst, looking at a phone. The audience needs to feel that, in that moment, you are 100% there for the message and for them.

Listen—actually listen—to the feedback

Feedback isn’t always verbal. Take non-verbal cues from your audience into account when you are speaking with them. You need to be able to adjust what you’re saying on the fly, so that you don’t lose the audience and you remain connected to them.

Someone who feels they need to say everything they had on their agenda, regardless of how it’s received, simply to ‘make their point’, isn’t communicating effectively. If you’re looking for feedback or an actual dialogue on the subject, you’ll know that you’re not reaching your audience when they tune you out or don’t ask any meaningful questions.

Further to the last point, you should always be looking to create that dialogue. Communicating to create action is not a one way street: it’s not command it, and it will happen. People simply don’t respond to that kind of demagogue like speechmaking.

Focus on the WHY, not the WHAT

When you want people to act on what you’re saying, you have to give them the motivation and, to some extent, that feeling is more important than the acts themselves. Look at it like storytelling: if you tell a group WHY you’re passionate about a new process that you want to put in place, and not just THAT you want to put it in place, you will develop buy in from your audience far more quickly and effectively.

If you start with just the fact of a change that you want them to engage in, you’re putting walls and barriers for those who might be reluctant followers before you’ve even begun. If you start with the why, your motivation, your passion… you will get far more people nodding along with you, understanding your thought process and wanting to run with it on your behalf.

The reality is, most people aren’t born communicators. The skills needed to reach an audience and compel them to action are learned. It’s a major effort for most people but it’s worth every moment spent acquiring the skills and practicing them because communication and leadership are synonymous. You really can’t have one without the other.

 

With that in mind, executive coaching might be just what you need to take your communications, and your leadership, to the next level. Contact us today for more information.

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Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

It’s easier than you might think for a leader to upset the morale of a team.

If you are in any kind of management or leadership role, you know that managing different personalities and work styles can be difficult. Everyone has their little peccadillos that need to be handled appropriately.

But there are things that some leaders do that will almost universally upset the balance and morale of a team. It’s not that your team are delicate snowflakes that need to be handled with kid gloves, but they are people and they have feelings. If you abuse them or their trust, you will have a morale problem on your hands that will be very difficult to walk back from.

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Here are some ways you can really freak out your team. The moral of this story? Don’t do them.

1. Be an Emotional Yo-Yo

One minute, you’re happy and laughing. The next minute, you’re slamming your office door and giving people the silent treatment. Are your mood swings even related to work? Or are you bringing your personal life to the office? Like the Hare and the Tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Whatever is going on in your life or at the office, you need to display outward calm and control.

I knew a manager once whose employees would do a walk-by of her office to peek in at her and see how she was looking before daring to go in to ask for time off, or even a simple query about a project. That’s not leadership. The instability this causes among team members is a major hit to morale.

2. Be a Bully

Unless you’re wearing a crown, you don’t get to behave like a bully. And even if you are wearing a crown, it might not be a good idea. Intimidation and public humiliation are not management techniques. Using threats to get results will not propel a project forward in a positive way but will result in people feeling like their jobs are constantly on the line.

It even comes down to the way you communicate with your team. Good leaders ask for input and make requests. Bad leaders demand things of their team. The rules of the game apply to you too, and don’t think your team won’t notice if you think they don’t.

3. Make Poor HR Decisions

Even worse than making a poor HR decision is not making them at all. Your team needs you to make hard decisions, not pussyfoot around. Not dealing with team members who aren’t performing or have a negative attitude is a great way to bring down morale. It looks like you have no interest in the team or the project at best, or that you are blithely unaware of the problem, at worst.

Putting the right people in the right roles so that they can do their jobs effectively is not an exercise in politics or patronage. It’s an exercise in getting the job done. The right people are those who are qualified and motivated to do the work. If you’ve done your job correctly, by putting together a good team, you won’t need to micromanage them, treating them like kindergartners.

4. Stop Communicating With Your Team

This is on the same line of thought as ‘not being an emotional yo-yo’, above, but even more so, a good leader is straightforward with their team. Don’t make your staff guess at what you’re trying to tell them. Improperly communicating expectations will just result in the team not meeting them. Why? Because they can’t read your mind!

Feedback is essential for good team building. Not the dreaded once a year annual review, which no one appreciates, but on an ongoing basis. A good leader will offer positive or constructive feedback throughout the lifecycle of a project. Bad leaders will say nothing until they’re unhappy, equating feedback with criticism. Eventually, team members will avoid communicating with a leader who can’t or won’t share useful comments.

In the same vein, building a culture of blame and finger pointing instead of finding solutions to problems is a communication issue. If you are only looking for the holes and who created them, instead of finding ways to mend them, you’re not going to get far.

5. Take the Credit Where It’s NOT Due

By far, one of the easiest ways to upset a team is to blame them when things go wrong but take all the credit when things go right. Worse, if you refuse to admit when you don’t know something or when you are wrong about something. It comes down to being forthright and clear with your team, and having an understanding that without them, you have nothing. Appreciating their efforts is the single best way to boost their spirits and commitment.

Building a team and being a good leader are remarkable goals. They’re totally attainable as long as you keep both feet on the ground and work to achieve them with honesty and purpose.

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Do You Want To Be an Exceptional Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

Do You Want To Be an Exceptional Leader?

Communication is the key

There are leaders and then there are LEADERS. The latter are people who are able to inspire and motivate those around them with seemingly little effort. Those who follow their direction are energized, galvanized, uplifted and electrified.

These are some strong words to describe the mindset of some teams and the leaders who are truly successful at inspiring these sentiments can do one thing better than anything else: they can communicate well.

Exceptional leaders use all forms of communication

Humans communicate in a multitude of ways: voice is just one of them. A good leader will make use of all the ways of communicating at their disposal, including body language and listening skills.

A leader with arms folded across their chest all the time, eyes darting in every which direction like a nervous tic will not elicit a lot of confidence in those he or she is communicating with. Open stance body language and eye contact, with their full attention focused on whomever they are communicating with are important ways that a good leader will show, not just say, what they are trying to share.

A good leader will always be looking at the recipient of his or her words and actions to gauge reaction: are they responding? Are they nodding? Are they engaged?

If a recipient isn’t engaged, a good leader will adjust their stance, their body position, their facial expression, even their distance, to try and elicit a better, more positive reaction. Some of this is instinctive: we want to know that people are hearing us; but a lot of it is learned and acquired over time, by paying attention to cues from listeners.

Listening skills are just as important in communication as active speaking or body language. A leader who listens but does not actually hear what people are telling him or her isn’t really participating in a two-way discussion.

Without open discussion, a leader isn’t engaging with his or her team in a meaningful way but is instead issuing directions instead of creating a culture of communication.

Exceptional leaders are clear in their messaging

Whether talking about their vision for the company or the structure of management for a specific project, clear communication is vital. To that end, specific communication, using clear and unencumbered language in an even tone is the best way to ensure that everyone understands and is on the same page. Sarcasm, snark and even misplaced jokes can quite unintentionally create barriers to communication.

Clarity comes from confidence and knowledge. If a leader doesn’t really know what they are talking about or they are not confident in their knowledge, it shows. They will tend to say whatever comes into their mind instead of providing thoughtful comments or feedback.

It’s the mark of a good leader when even negative feedback is given in the spirit of improvement rather than as punishment.

Exceptional leaders are humble in their statements

A truly effective leader doesn’t expound on a topic as if they were the only one who understood things. They don’t pontificate. They share information from their point of view, in their own unique voice, with directness and politeness, and with evidence of appropriate reflection on what they are saying.

False or hyperbolic statements are easy to spot and a person who speaks that way regularly will eventually be dismissed by those around them.

Teams will follow a leader who understands them and whom they can understand, a leader who takes the time to listen and reflects back to them what he or she has heard. Being a good leader is very much about open communication with peers and subordinates alike, and less about speech making.

Being a good leader is very much about open communication with peers and subordinates alike, and less about speech making.

 

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step-by-step conflict resolution Shannon Cassidy

Step-by-Step Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is a primary human resources function in nearly every organization. While this task is rarely an HR professional’s favorite to tackle, conflict resolution is necessary for a positive work culture, improved productivity, risk management, and limited turnover. The good news (or the bad news) is that the outcome of conflict resolution is largely based on the mediator, who is often the HR professional. The HR professional has a responsibility to conduct a productive, meaningful conversation, keeping both employees on task and producing results that satisfy each party.

Even with the most difficult personalities, conflict resolution doesn’t have to be hard. Following these steps can eliminate the chaos and transform conflict resolution into a calculated science.

Choose a Private, Neutral Setting

Conflict resolution should never be done in front of other employees, clients, or guests. Selecting a private, netural location such as a private meeting room, a human resources office, or a small conference room prevents humiliation and promotes honest conversation.

Always Schedule in Advance

When employees are caught off guard, they tend to show increased defensiveness, anger, and frustration. Always schedule a conflict resolution meeting in advance, and whenever suitable, tell both parties why the meeting has been scheduled. This prevents the defensiveness and other negative responses that come from a surprise attack and allows employees to gather their thoughts in advance.

If numerous employees are having interpersonal issues with the same person, schedule multiple one-on-one meetings.

Define Clear Goals

Once the meeting has started, the HR professional’s first order of business is to define goals for the meeting. Defining goals establishes purpose for the meeting, which is vital for a meaningful encounter. Without established and clear purpose, conflict resolution often evolves into a never-ending merry-go-round of insults and accusations. Some possible goals for a conflict resolution meeting include:

  • To establish a plan for completing a project together despite differences
  • To overcome differences to better provide for our clients, guests, patrons, or patients
  • To complete specific tasks that have been a point of conflict, such as scheduling vacations, defining roles, or making decisions

Overcoming differences between employees ultimately provides a more positive experience for clients, guests, patrons, or patients, so the second goal should be included in nearly every conflict resolution meeting. It draws their attention to the bigger picture and provides clear direction for the meeting.

Give Each Party an Opportunity to Share

Provide each person time to share their viewpoint and concerns, following basic ground rules:

  • Conversation must be respectful at all times
  • Each party speaks in turn only
  • Yelling, swearing, name calling, or any other display of disrespect or aggression will end the meeting immediately and result in discipline.
  • Conversation should stay on task, addressing specific situations that have brought issue and not personal character

Limit this time to 5 minutes each and don’t allow response following statements. One person speaks, the other speaks, and then the meeting moves forward.

Brainstorm Solutions

While most employees who have a tense working relationship will never agree on every point, focusing on solutions can encourage them to look past disagreements to perform to their full potential. Take ample time to discuss solutions, and request ideas for resolution from each party. If either employee is quick to shoot down ideas, request a better suggestion.

Establish a Plan

Establish a clear plan going forward. Which employee will take on which responsibilities and when? All parties should know the plan and their specific role in it when the meeting is concluded.

Conflict resolution doesn’t have to be hard; stick to the steps, remove personal feelings, and work to accomplish defined goals and and stay on task, and conflict resolution will no longer be laden with dread.

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How to Lead People

Being Human: How to Lead People

Your organization has sent you to leadership training and nurtured you through their fast track program. You know the disciplinary policy like the back of your hand and the you could recite state labor laws in your sleep. While these things are important to know and understand, the true foundation of effective leadership lies in inherent human qualities. In simple, great leadership boils down to being human.

Be Honest

Good leaders are honest with their employees, clients, and managers. They own their mistakes and oversights and actively work toward a solution. They don’t say anything behind an employee’s back that they haven’t said to the employee’s face. Their subordinates respect their honesty and trust their words. Sugar coating performance deficits causes confusion for the employee and fails to promote success. Be honest.

Be Friendly

Employees who connect with their leaders are more likely to respect and follow their leaders and feel satisfied in their role. Take time to learn about your employees’ families and hobbies; they make wonderful friendly talking points. A simple, “Good morning, Shirley! How did Bob’s appointment go yesterday?” goes a long way. Always take a moment to establish eye contact and make a connection.

Be Real

Show your employees that you are a real person not so different from themselves. Laugh at work often and smile whenever you can. Let your employees into your life a little by sharing information about your family and hobbies. Leaders who are real with their employees are more approachable, and therefore receive more valuable feedback and suggestions.

Be Supportive

Good leaders are those who are supportive of their employee’s ambitions and goals. Support each employee in their role, assist individuals in understanding the value of their contributions to the organization, and encourage every employee to pursue in-house positions that interest them. Take time to discuss an employee’s career planning so you can work to keep the best in the organization. Identify leaders early and share your plans for their advancement in the organization.

Be Empathetic

Experience in the leadership industry can harden even the most compassionate of hearts. However, a leader should go to great lengths to see every employee as a human being, take every concern seriously, and genuinely empathize with the employee expressing his or her dissatisfaction. Furthermore, the effective leader shows empathy with the grieving employee and encourages as much family time as possible.

Be Rewarding

Statistics show that employee satisfaction increases more when non-monetary rather than monetary rewards are issued. Commit to complimenting a minimum of three employees daily on their performance. Telling the janitorial staff, “It sure looks great in here! Thanks for the hard work!” or your administrative assistant, “Thanks for keeping such an organized schedule!” takes mere moments but their effects are lasting.

Be Open Minded

Be willing to consider the viewpoints of others and entertain new ideas or suggestions. Good leaders understand the value in new and differing opinions. Furthermore, employees respect and value a leader who is open to their thoughts and opinions and who considers them seriously.

Be Inspiring

An effective leader shows employees what he or she expects of them by displaying the same commitment and drive every day. A leader’s boots should be the first to hit the ground and the last to leave. Policy should be followed fervently and eagerly. Strides should be taken every day in the direction of success and advancement of the organization.

In conclusion, a good leader requires some textbook knowledge but an abundance of quality characteristics. A good leadership mantra is, “Always do the right thing.”

 

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