Get your point across, hear what others have to say, and avoid conflict with these tips
Leaders need to be heard, need to listen, and need to facilitate this process for their teams. Communication is essential to any smooth-running project. Here is a checklist to help clear communication thrive in your workplace.
- Listen: Greek philosopher Epictetus famously said, ‘we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak’. A good leader listens to their team, their clients, their customers, because until you understand a situation you can’t really improve it. Don’t feel the need to fill a void with noise, hear what others have to say and model listening to your team.
- Regular check-ins: Team meetings and one to ones are really essential in making sure everyone understands each other and has a chance to be heard. While you don’t want to overpopulate your working day with meetings, scheduling regular check-ins is essential to keep communication flowing.
- Be transparent: Make sure your team understand your decision-making process and the details. Give them a chance to buy in and take part. They will feel a sense of ownership which fosters both productivity and wellbeing at work.
- Keep an open door: Make sure people know they can approach you, even with bad news. Don’t accidentally create a blame culture – let people tell you the problems and remain solutions-focused.
- Be specific: Don’t patronise your staff, but make sure your communications are clear and targeted. Don’t leave things open to interpretation.
- Body language: Your mouth may be moving but what is your body saying? People pickup on non-verbal cues. Make sure you understand how to make yourself more physically approachable, and how to read other people’s body language too.
- Offer praise: Recognise good work among the team and individuals, and make sure people know. If it is appropriate, share success within teams or across teams. This isn’t about pitching people against each other, but about supporting learning from success and building confidence.
Good communication fosters trust
In his book The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion, Author Jonathan Haidt talks about the elephant brain – also known as the back brain – and how it is driven by emotion, while the logical or conscious brain is the rider on top of the elephant. We make emotional decisions and justify them with our logical brain. In order to buy into something, we need to feel emotionally safe.
If you are open, honest and approachable, your team, clients and other stakeholders will feel emotionally safe. They will trust you. Research has shown that trust improves engagement, and engaged employees are 17 per cent more productive, with sales in engaged organisations 20 per cent higher and profitability 21 per cent higher. Employees are also safer and have better wellbeing which also contributes to higher retention rates and reduced costs.
A leader who models good communications skills also breeds those skills among their team, improving outcomes for organisations across the board.
IMNZ’s Think on your Feet course offers communication tips and training to help you shine as a leader and develop trust. Find out more here.