The Extra-Divine Guide to Better Communication with Your Team
Get ready! I’m about to offer you 3 lists, each with its own list of 3 (so that you know it’s extra-divinely inspired!!!), on what I consider to be the linchpin of leadership: Communication. Leader-to-team communication has been making or breaking leaders since the dawn of time. And it can take place in a million ways these days (face-to-face, phone, text message, email, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, etc). These principles will apply, no matter which mediums you use to communicate with your team.
- Gathering and Dispersing Information. This is obvious, isn’t it? Leaders have to initiate communication because nothing gets done without knowledge: “Here’s the next quarter’s schedule.” “Penelope said ‘no’ to this volunteer opportunity, any suggestions for a next ask?” And so forth… Perhaps the next two reasons for communication will surprise you. They are often unexpected by-products of communication.
- Buy-In. Healthy, consistent communication leads team members to buy in to the leader and into the team mission. At an elementary level, this works because people cannot buy into what they know nothing about. Regular communication allows the opportunity to know you and the mission…and people become devoted to the people and causes they know best.
- Unity. Without clear communication, each team member has their own ideas (or lack thereof) about their role, the team’s role and the leader’s role. This ultimately leads to…well, not much of anything. But clear communication provides a single-minded sense of purpose that can lead to really big wins!
- Difficult to read. We didn’t all ace English class but we CAN all write and speak in understandable fashion. That might mean proofreading your email or even having someone proofread for you. With verbal communication, try practicing in front of a mirror or friend.
- Talking to a subordinate. No one likes to be talked down to; no one wants to feel they’re nothing more than a cog in your wheel. Begin by replacing “I/You” with “Us/We”. Tell them regularly that you enjoy working with them (sometimes I add “together” as emphasis or use a word like “alongside” to facilitate feelings of partnership rather than leader/follower).
- No Communication. Hands-down, no communication is the absolute worst communication. Really??? Really. Even if you called people on your team and cussed them out, at least something would happen (i.e. they all quit your team)! And that’s preferable to wasting good people’s time on a team going nowhere.
- Emphasizes key points. In an email format, this could mean using bulleted lists and/or making key points bold or italicized. Try to focus people’s attention or they’ll be lost in a sea of text. In verbal communication try repeating important items. You can also have them write it down or say it back to you.
- Concise and clear. Sometimes I struggle with this one. Case-in-point, it would be advisable to replace 3 lists of 3 with 1 list of 1!
- Positive and passionate. EVERY TIME you communicate (even when you don’t feel like it; even when you’re tired and weary), your team needs to know that you’re excited about the possibilities and that you believe in their potential to accomplish great things.
What’s the hardest part of communication for you?