Good communication skills allow managers to perform their roles effectively. In a high-level position, your actions, decisions and communication have an enormous impact on your organisation. Whether you are managing two staff, or 200, the way you operate can impact how productive and profitable your team is.
Effective leadership and effective communication are closely intertwined. The leadership team is arguably the most important team in any organisation. The decisions you make have implications for everyone else in the business.
While an individual is in charge of their teams of employees, the leadership team as a whole makes decisions for the entire company. Therefore, the way leadership teams communicate, collaborate and work together can make or break a business (trust me I’ve witnessed it on many occasions).
Here are 5 ways leadership teams can communicate better.
1. Meet Regularly
We all know how busy work life can get. There are never enough hours in the day. It’s all too common for internal meetings to get sidelined and pushed to meet competing workplace demands. After all, leading a team pulls you in several different directions constantly. Emails are sent and conversations take place in hallways between meetings, but is this enough?
Unfortunately not. There is a need to hold face-to-face (in person or on Zoom) meetings monthly, to ensure everyone is aware of the things that impact them. By learning together, solving problems and working on specific issues, you are reinforcing your company’s culture, initiatives and goals.
Beyond this, it is important to consider a team coach. Team coaching allows leadership teams to come together and communicate effectively, reflecting on what the organisation has achieved within the last year.
As leaders, you have the opportunity to understand each other better and work towards a common goal. By noting each other’s strengths, weaknesses and interests, workplace operations can be planned and carried out more effectively.
On a day-to-day basis, a manager is solely focused on his team, which can lead to a lack of cohesiveness amongst departments. It leads to inconsistent communication and less trust, placing increased pressure on leaders of poor functioning teams.
By regularly scheduling meetings and taking part in an annual team building day, goals will align within the business, with a collaborative workplace coming into fruition.
2. Collaboration is Key
While regular meetings are important, if there is no agenda set then not much will be achieved. By putting an agenda into writing before the meeting, leaders have a chance to get across all issues up for discussion, and to educate themselves on each talking point. This means that decisions can be reached during the meeting, without unnecessary time spent getting everyone up to speed.
An agenda also allows for a ranking of priorities. As mentioned, time is in short supply and internal meetings have a high tendency to drag on for longer than necessary. By following a list of priorities, all the important areas are discussed first.
Once decisions are made, they need to be communicated to the workplace. It is essential for the leadership to be clear on the following aspects:
- What information will you be communicating to employees?
- Why is it important?
- How should the information be communicated?
- Who will communicate it?
There needs to be a cohesive approach to communicating any decisions the leadership team makes to ensure mixed messages aren’t received around a workplace.
3. Speak up!
One of the biggest traps people in leadership positions tend to fall into is not speaking up and asking for clarification. There is a fear of looking incompetent in front of other leaders. Remember, the only stupid question is the one not asked. If you want clarity on something, then there is a good chance that you are not alone and others are wanting answers to the same question.
Take the analogy of emergency room staff: nurses and doctors speak the same medical language and there is no room for sloppy communication. If emergency room team members don’t communicate with precision, people die. While the stakes aren’t quite as high in a business setting, the repercussions that come from lack of communication and clarification are still extensive. It has a flow-on effect through the rest of the organisation.
4. Be An Engaged Listener
A leader’s role is to engage, inspire and empower – communicate with that in mind and you will nail it each time. In order to be an effective communicator, you also need to be an engaged listener. The two go hand in hand together. In a leadership role, you have two competing groups of people to listen to: the employees you manage, as well as colleagues in the leadership team.
Often, we spend too much time focusing on what we should say in both scenarios. As a manager, we take on the responsibility of managing a team, which requires a high level of leadership skills. But it is important to actually listen to your employees. Effective communication is less about talking and more about listening.
On top of this, there is a big difference between engaged listening and simply hearing what someone said. When you are engaged, you take in so much more. You can note the tone and emotions that come in a conversation and build deeper relationships in the workplace.
By engaging with your employees, you gain a better understanding of how things are operating on a base level and a greater connection with your team. The next step is to be an engaged listener with your leadership team.
Every person manages differently, bringing their own skill set to the team. It can be all too tempting to focus on putting your best foot forward and showing how your way is best, but if you sit back and listen, you will learn so much more.
It allows you to share your strengths and weaknesses, while also discovering those of your team. By listening to each other you can build on these strengths and eliminate the weaknesses.
A collaborative approach results in everyone in the leadership team feeling heard and valued, which goes a long way to establishing a positive work environment. Communicating in this way also lowers stress and supports physical and emotional wellbeing. Being an engaged listener helps to calm you, and can also calm the person you are talking to. It creates more attentive conversations and rewarding interactions.
5. Reach Out For Help
The final way to open the doors of communication is to not be afraid to reach out for help. I truly believe to overcome our challenges, all that is required is the courage to ask for help. Strong leaders are those who focus on the more strategic issues of accomplishing workplace tasks and developing their team, and aren’t worried about how they will look. You need to put your ego aside and understand that asking for help will not brand you as incapable, but rather responsible. This is the true meaning of being a team player.
One mistake from your team can affect the whole company, and by choosing not to speak out and ask for help when you need it, you are letting everybody down. Instead, building on the previous tips, when you know and understand your leadership team and their individual strengths, it puts you in a position to call on these strengths as needed. Within an organisation you are all working towards a common goal together, and open communication leads to a collaborative style workplace.
Need more manpower for a project? Speak to another team leader you know is currently going through a quiet period and could lend a hand.
Don’t have the skill set for a certain part of a project? Approach a team leader with that skill set and ask for advice or help.
Running the risk of missing a deadline? Consult your leadership team about ways you can push forward and get everything in on time. You never know what someone will provide.
This also means that if another member of your leadership team finds themselves in a similar position in the future, they also won’t be afraid to speak out. It is in everybody’s best interests to work together and ensure the operational standards of the businesses grow.
Communication is a foundational leadership skill, and one that you most likely drew upon to get yourself in a leadership position in the first place. Ensuring that your leadership team communicates as one is key to success. It is when the communication lines break down that the workplace becomes dysfunctional, unproductive, and in some cases, toxic.
Here are 5 signs to observe that indicate your leadership team may need to rethink the way they communicate:
- Low morale – engagement: is there a lack of energy in the office? No talking around the coffee machine? No team lunches? This is a clear indication of a breakdown of communication. Employees often mimic what they see and if they aren’t observing a collaborative team environment, they won’t participate in one either.
- Uncertainty:no-one wants to experience uncertainty in the workplace. If employees are unsure of their role, or who to ask for help, this a failure on management’s part. Open communication ensures everyone knows exactly how they are contributing and what to expect.
- Lack of collaboration: do your employees help each other on projects and is there crossover between teams? Or is there animosity between teams? While it is healthy for a little competition, at the end of the day, everyone should be willing to help out and lend a hand when needed.
- Loss of credibility:this comes when you don’t become an engaged listener and communicator. If your team doesn’t approach you or effectively steer clear, it’s a good sign the doors of communication are closed.
- High turnover: if staff are leaving all the time, it’s a good indication that there is some imbalance in your office that needs to be addressed with open communication.
It is never too late to implement effective communication methods in your leadership team. Look at where you are currently at, and identify the changes you can make going forward to get everyone on the same page.
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To overcome our challenges, all that is required is the courage to ask for help. Call us today on 0409 129 723 for a confidential and obligation-free chat about how we can help you improve your leadership and achieve more success.