"Communication is a skill that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing. If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life."
--- Brian Tracy
Of all the areas that can be improved upon to create a more efficient team, communication is at the top of the list. Poor communication from a leader to team members produces disastrous outcomes. The better communication skills a leader has, the more successful his team members will be at carrying out the mission and vision of the business.
There are many ways to improve communication. We'll list three here that can be implemented right away.
"Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning."
--- Warren Bennis
First, speak on the team's level. All too often we assume the way we like to communicate is the way others like to as well. This is not true. Instead of assuming you know, begin by observing how your team members communicate with other people. Do they tend to socialize before getting down to business, or are do they tend to be very direct.
Observing will give you clues as to how your team prefers to communicate in a given situation. You can then adapt your management style to meet the needs of each individual member.
This is not always an easy task and it typically works best with one-on-one communication. However, learning the various communication styles of your team helps you to better deliver your message.
"Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true."
--- Charles Dickens
Next, keep the message simple. With such complexity in the world today (as well as needless distractions) and strong demands on time, it is better to keep your communications simple. One way to do this is to be personable with your communications. Sending out a directive via email might deliver the message, but it doesn't include the human side of you.
Simple and direct messages using eye contact and showing emotion is a great way to communicate your point to your team. Then, you can follow-up with emails, memos, etc.
"Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know."
--- Jim Rohn
Finally, find out if your message was delivered. This doesn't mean making sure that you received a receipt from Federal Express. What it means is that you received feedback from your team that they understand your communication.
How often have we had in our mind one idea that seems as clear as day, but once communicated to someone else, it is received in a completely different way? The correct delivery of your message is your responsibility, not your team. You have to make sure that they understand what you've said.
"When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say."
--- Abraham Lincoln
Ask team members to tell you in their words what you communicated to them. This is not a time-consuming task and if done consistently, is not condescending to others. Explain to your team that you are striving for the most flawless communication channels that can be and that their feedback of understanding enhances the process for everyone.
"The relationship is the communication bridge between people."
--- Alfred Kadushin
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