Effective Communication Skills at Work
Team Building and Personal Effectiveness
Often the strength of an organisation’s culture can be measured by the openness with which staff can address personal concerns and communicate these to colleagues. So how do companies and those entrusted with people development make meaningful connections among and with their staff, creating greater co-operation and a place where motivated teams thrive and become more effective business units?
The corporate environment is a microcosm of the world, where diversity and difference exist. When staff work within close proximity and have added time pressures, difference become more pronounced. People under pressure revert to their natural inclinations to communicate and relate in their own specific style, which isn’t always in everybody’s best interest.
One of the age-old challenges facing HR is dealing with this diversity of personalities or more specifically communications styles (effective and not-so-effective). The key to unlocking this door rests in finding an organisational framework for communicating within teams, where diverse styles can blend together and create the level of co-operation needed for an organisation to thrive and retain its staff. People do not leave companies, they leave “bosses” and colleagues because of personal communication issues.
Here’s the crux of it, people do show up in the workplace speaking the same language, but they are using very different rules of engagement. People look through their own eyes and try to fit the world into their version of how things should be, which can become more pronounced in a team project environment, where decisions and deadlines are the key drivers. Some people will be flexible and dynamic, while others will work rigidly within their own framework; and this is where the interpersonal relationships start to disintegrate. If there is no programme or framework to express and communicate openly, and depersonalise the personal issues, the company often pays in lower productivity, poorer staff relations, or worse, loss of key employees.
Observe the four communication styles below, used from a programme for improving personal effectiveness, and see if you can identify these in your company. Notice how well they function in your team environment, and how this impacts your bottom line and productivity. There are 4 key styles represented below, to keep things simple, and these are based on the key psychometric models of personality from Carl Jung, the renowned Swiss psychologist.
The Analytical Type seeks out facts first, is a logical, planner and organiser, who takes time in expressing decisions and thoughts, and may be perceived as rather detached and inflexible at times. The Director Type thrives on action, quick decisions, having control over situations and is usually direct in communicating a message, and may be perceived as blunt at times. The Team Builder focuses on feelings and relationships and is concerned with the welfare of others and their values; they may sometimes be perceived as sensitive and slow to give a response. The Visionary Type thrives on social relationships, future possibilities, new ideas, and high energy interaction with others; they may be perceived by others as dreamers and impractical.
Effective communication among your staff members will vary according to their style and yours. Analyticals likes lots of detailed information, the how and what, and constantly seeks clarification on a situation, before doing anything. The Leaders wants direct confident communication, where you get to the point and just don’t take things personally that they say. The Team Builder wants to know how you feel about things, who else will be involved and how it impacts on them personally; just give them time to air their views without interruption. The Visionary wants an enthusiastic, flexible, open discussion; just make sure they are involved and their ideas are heard!
Staff will benefit hugely by understanding how different people communicate and experience the world. One size does not fit all. They need to understand how they and others operate, and how their message is being communicated and received by others, including your clients. Behavioural flexibility should be central to an organisational communication model! Staff should be encouraged to adapt to others’ styles of communication and their needs, be it for more detail, directness, involvement or openness and global thinking.
To open the doors to better communication within an organisation requires an open system, with rules of engagement that work for everybody. Having an effective model of communicating, that can be used across an organisation will pay dividends on a business and personal level for both staff and employers. Building better businesses is about cohesive, long-term profitable relationships and keeping your most valuable asset – your staff! And it is all about open channels of communication, where people draw on their personal effectiveness to help your organisation grow and flourish.