Leverage individual communication styles to enhance team operations

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“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly”.

(Mark Sanborn)

There are no two teams that are exactly alike.  Not the most prophetic thing I’ve ever written in this blog space but worth stating.

Teams have different dynamics and function based on these things and the people who make up the team.  The most successful teams can leverage the talents of each team member into the overall organizational dynamic to ensure successful outcomes.

We’ve discussed team communication strategies in previous posts with an angle to strengthen your team.  Individual communication styles and preferences should be reviewed and discussed when you add someone new to your team.  I’m sure everyone strives to hire the best candidate to fill an opening on their team.  How much thought do you put into understanding how to integrate the new team member’s communication style in with others?

I’m a firm believer that leaders should know direct reports’ communication style and preferred way they want to receive information.  This knowledge allows leaders to seek ways to ensure they communicate in a way to maximize operational needs.  This knowledge has helped me when assigning tasks to team members.

Example #1:  When faced with a project that has an extremely quick turnaround time, I normally assign this project to my ENFJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project excites the staff member and I know they will get things done quickly with enough time for review before the deadline.

Example #2:  When faced with a project due four months from today, I normally assign this project to my ISTJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project allows the staff member time to plan, strategize and ask all the questions they need to for a successful outcome.

The examples listed above are two actual scenarios I’ve tackled in the past.  Both had successful outcomes because I knew and understood how to engage staff to maximize their talents.  This in turn produced successful outcomes for the organization.

Knowledge of individual communication styles also provides a blueprint to help build training plans to help staff members grow.  Introverted staff are not exempt from ever getting a task with a quick turnaround.  The leader needs to provide a more detailed set of instructions and understand they may have to follow-up with the staff member.  This process begins to stretch the staff member and helps their professional growth.  This also provides the leader with another staff member who can handle future quick turnaround projects and not wear out the extroverts.  Also, extroverted staff are not exempt from being assigned long term projects—training applies to all staff members.

There are multiple ways to engage staff to understand their individual communication style.  MBTI and CliftonStrengths are two tools used in my work environments.  These tools allowed me to get a better understanding of everyone on my team and integrate this knowledge to help teammates understand each other as well.

What’s the most successful way for me to understand how to communicate with my team?  I sit down with them and ask everyone how they like to receive information.  Simple, huh?  Then I make sure to communicate with everyone in a manner they identify (as much as possible).  Things pop up but I try to remain consistent with the communication process.  Direct reports seem to appreciate this fact and respond in a positive manner.

A final note, leaders need to ensure their team knows how they like to communicate as well.  The team shouldn’t have to guess how to approach a leader.  This creates undo stress and is not productive.

How do you account for individual communication styles in the work environment?  Can this knowledge impact your current organization?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”.

(Plato)

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People are more important than the job description (My soapbox)

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“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say”.

(Andy Stanley)

So, need to vent for a minute.

Continue to see and hear across multiple industries where the boss makes job description modifications (additions/deletions/unit changes) without discussing with the person doing the actual job.  The boss is then surprised when staff decide to find a work environment that views them as more than the job description.

Please note, I’m not saying changes can’t be made to a specific job description.  Organizational missions change and updating duties, responsibilities and unit structure provides growth needed to move forward.  Leaders need to ensure the people tasked with getting things accomplished remain a part of the overall process.  Imagine the favorite part of your current position is removed and nothing was said to you prior to implementation.  How would you feel?

I know leaders who make decisions based on how the job description is written and refuse to consider the impact on the person in the position.  Never agreed with this logic and still don’t.  People are more important than the job description!

The authentic leadership variable balanced processing would help in these situations.  My research identified balanced processing as the variable that best explains job satisfaction for direct reports.  They want to be involved and should be.

Leaders are encouraged to seek and find the big picture before making decisions.  Simply identifying potential job description changes would allow staff to provide input before the final product is created.  Balanced processing is leveraged to build trust, encourage professional growth for direct reports and provides a foundational and reliable decision-making process.  It also signals all opinions are valued and expected.  The concept eliminates personal bias from the decision-making process, everyone in the organization has input prior to the final decision.  Again, people are more important than the job description!

I continue to promote the authentic leadership model because it can help create positive workplace outcomes and improve organizational performance.  It may also stop workplace turnover and get me off this overworked soapbox!

Okay, I’m dropping the microphone and stepping down from my soapbox. 😊

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How does your work environment ensure people are not overlooked?  Does your leadership put job descriptions ahead of the people doing the job?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

“It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team”.

(Stephen Covey)

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Strong tree branches keep me moving forward

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“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together”.

(African Proverb)

My collective tree branches continue to amaze me daily!

I enjoy watching the great things they are doing in their respective areas of higher education, mentoring, volunteering, speaking, podcasting, recruiting, leadership development and fitness to name a ‘few’ areas these outstanding folks are making a difference.

The one area that stands out to me today as I write this is the teamwork they constantly display.  My Walk into the Future has led me away from a physical office space—as noted, I primarily work out of coffee shops with Lucky Goat being first choice.  My previous work life allowed me to be surrounded by direct reports and colleagues every day.  There was always someone available to me whenever I had a question, concern or marketing idea I needed to hash out.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.

(Henry Ford)

My current walk provides me unlimited freedoms to decide what I work on and when.  The one limiting factor is I don’t have ‘my’ team right down the hallway to bounce things off.

A great aspect of having so many tree branches is they are only a text message, email or phone call away when I need help.  Today was a perfect example of how great my tree branches are.  Needed some help generating a Presentation Value Proposition for a conference proposal I was working on.

I had no trouble describing my proposed presentation, highlighting learning outcomes and generating an overall summary.  Couldn’t generate the Value Proposition for the presentation for some odd reason—just couldn’t make it pop or even sound interesting.

Reached out to two of my most creative tree branches and described my dilemma.  Provided them with what I needed to do and my attempt to generate the Value Proposition.  They both jumped into teammate mode and sent me back appealing options for the Value Proposition that made the presentation sound exciting.  The point being is even without us being in the same cities, my team still has my back and we make each other better daily.

The ability to stress the importance of teamwork is something I’m proud to bring to every organization I’ve worked with.  It’s great to see my tree branches continue to embrace team concepts and help others grow.  Well done tree branches—keep up the great things you do daily!  Very proud of your efforts!

Thanks to my tree branches who return my texts, emails, phone calls and LinkedIn shout outs!  You’re fueling this journey one step at a time—Irie!

What are the most important team concepts you display daily?  How can you enhance the team experience in your work environment?  Thanks!

Respect Melissa and V’Rhaniku!

ER 2016

(2016 team bowling outing)

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else”.

(Booker T. Washington)

Emulate great leaders ‘and’ learn from bad bosses

‘Never step on enthusiasm.’

(Colin Powell)

Humility Post

I love the image above for the simple message it sends.  True leaders are not afraid to engage to ensure team success.  Leaders display a level of humility when they show direct reports they are a part of the overall team, not just the person demanding results.

Contrast the two examples in the image.  Who would you want to work for?  The leader or the boss?  Why?

I have been lucky to work for some truly great leaders in multiple work environments.  They all shared a vision of what success looks like and made sure everyone was working toward the same goals.  These great leaders always led by example and made professional development/learning a priority in the workplace.  This enhanced direct report engagement and made everyone want to get more accomplished.  Regardless of style (authentic, transformational, democratic, etc.), great leaders provide positive interactions and examples we can emulate and utilize within our own leadership practice.

Luckily, I have not experienced too many of the boss examples in the image above, but I have made a point to learn from these people as well.  Don’t be so quick to write off the lessons you gained from a boss:

  • How did your boss make you feel daily?
  • How easy was it to bring them problems?
  • Did they explain tasks or just say go get things done?
  • How competent were they getting the job done?
  • How invested were they in your professional development?
  • How much fun were they to be around?
  • How much staff turnover did your office have?

I could add more things to this ‘boss check list’ but believe you see my pattern now.  So, what lessons can you learn from a boss?  I’ve learned to never repeat a ‘boss’ trait I viewed as a negative.

Getting up from behind a desk or closed door to engage with people daily is an easy task for everyone.  Never get so comfortable with a position you forget your responsibility to the people you serve.  Servant leadership is centered on the idea the leader serves their people.  Take the time to explain the ‘why’ of a task not just the ‘what’ needs to be done.  Leverage the strengths of everyone on the team.  This requires the leader to know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member.

It’s okay to have fun at work!  No, really, fun and work can go together.  Look at some of the most successful organizations and the culture they build in the work environment.  Work still gets done but fun happens daily—may be a coincidence but these type organizations are able to retain their staff members.

Consider implementing a stay interview process.  Stay interviews allow great leaders to engage staff to see what they need in the work environment.  The stay interview builds a dialogue to enable both sides to enhance relationships and create a productive culture.  The leader does not have to promise anything they can’t back up and allows them to explain these things directly to staff members.  Example:  staff would like to work from home, but this is not applicable because the business has drop-in clientele.

Note:  Had a great conversation at a networking event last week in Orlando about the term ‘stay interview’.  Some organizations/leaders do not like this term.  That’s fine, call it ‘professional development interview, career development orientation, etc.’ but look for ways to engage staff on their professional needs.

So, continue to emulate the great leaders you have had in your work life but don’t miss the valuable lessons the bosses have provided.

What leadership traits do you emulate daily?  What have you learned from a boss (no names needed)?

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

(Maya Angelou)

war chess

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‘Play chess, not checkers.’

(Calvin Williams)