Executives and managers are looking at how they can make an impact now in a post-COVID-19 workplace. As managers assume responsibilities over guiding people and various projects, they collect more metrics to measure. With more junior employees, this creates a larger array of viewpoints, opinions, and skills. Each of these traits brings immense value to an organization---but only if they’re properly harnessed. How managers and their employees communicate matter to bolster these traits. As renowned management guru, Peter Drucker once said: “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”
In companies big and small, managers come across a number of different personalities and values. How can they work with these individuals in the most effective manner to get the job done? If you’re leading a team or a company, the most critical action you can take is knowing how to adapt your communication style.
Without good communication, managers not only risk not gaining buy-in from colleagues, but miss important business objectives and decrease team morale. Gaining the rapport and respect of colleagues and juniors should be a manager’s number one goal. Otherwise they may not trust you in navigating the new recruitment and hiring process or feature update. Projects may take longer when there’s little trust or commitment.
Part of a manager’s responsibility is to tailor their approach to coworkers. By being adaptable, managers strengthen key work relationships.
Without good communication, managers fail no matter how good their intentions are.
One key book on the art of managing people, “6 Habits of Highly Effective Bosses”, the authors show that behavior stems from intent; if managers understand the intent/key motivation behind an employee’s actions, they can route then figure out how this person needs to be communicated to in a more efficient way.
Even sitting down and having a conversation is a rarity. Gallup finds that only 20% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they have had a conversation with their manager in the last six months about the steps they can take to reach their goals. By making communication a priority, an employee gains confidence in their role, what they want to accomplish, and how that relates to the organization as a whole.
“Managers who identify positive intents in their staff perform an analysis of the fundamental needs that underlie certain workplace communication and behavior. Instead of responding with knee-jerk reactions to certain stimuli, effective managers assess the other person’s positive intent, to try to understand the person’s motives with greater clarity. “
These individuals value getting their work done. They’re focus is on checking the box and therefore don’t really like the superfluous small talk that may come from negotiations or meetings. They like meetings that are effective and get straight to the point. Employees like this do not enjoy deliberating about a project or decision. Rather they focus on getting to a result as quickly as possible in order to get to the next one. When speaking, keep your instructions clear and concise. Offer them clear questions or requests so they can offer a distinct result. Progression and training tends to be more formal and effective with this group. They may enjoy receiving a development stipend to take an online course relating to their position. Be intentional about their training and development.
These individuals focus on the process behind a project; they simply want to get the process right, which is usually how a positive result occurs. They enjoy rules and following best practices. When you’re working with these colleagues, be sure to show you value planning and going through feedback loops. By focusing on quality and process with these individuals, you’ll show that you’re aware of their objectives as well. Communicating with process-oriented people may in itself be a step-by-step processes: it’s deliberate and usually enjoy more communication as a result. With these individuals, you may “over communicate” so they feel the process is being adhered to.
Those who focus on community tend to make sure the atmosphere and the camaraderie is present. They want team members to get along. Creating strong bonds is important for these colleagues. They tend to enjoy team-building activities---like work trips or after-hour drinks. They view work and their work colleagues as an extension of their social lives. It shoudl be full of balance and enjoyment. Since the social aspect is highly valued by this group, be a manager that shows you’re interested in learning about their interests. Ask about their ideas on a project. This is how you build intimacy and trust with these community-driven employees. One tactic to assure this social bug is being fed: make sure they don’t stay enwrapped in a solitary assignment. Even if their role is an independent one, think of ways to have them more involved with others within the project or within the workplace in general. Only a third of U.S. employees strongly agree that their opinion at work seems to count. But when a manager takes an employee's opinion seriously and acts on it, that employee will feel respected and valued to the team. Engage them in group activities or discussions to keep their imagination fired up.
These individuals gain confidence from being recognized for their efforts and results. Since they possess a need to shine in front of their team, be sure to do this in front of others. It can in a meeting, at lunch, or via the company’s Slack channel. If this person needs improvement, you may want to fold in their “room for improvement” with encouragement. These individuals tend to gain validation from external things, like rewards or bonuses. Think of fun ways to reward them--it could be quirky stickers to a yearly bonus for great performance. Other fun ways to keep these employees motivated could be another form of a “bonus”, like a gift card. It may be surprising, but these employees do become motivated by a $25 gift card to Starbucks. If you’re working for a smaller organization, this could be a very cost-effective way to provide a bonus. With these kinds of colleagues, positive feedback is very useful and motivating towards call to action.
Part of being an organization leader means recognizing and utilizing people's inner motivations. It’s also helpful in not only understanding them to encourage positive behavior, but it could explain why they may not be thriving as expected. By customizing communication strategies for team members, an executive and manager can become more effective leaders. Much hinges on any leader’s ability to anticipate employee needs, remain authentic, and be trusted communicators. Since it’s a changing workplace, managers need to act quickly to avoid miscommunications and missteps. By adapting communication to each employee, this becomes a point of opportunity to harness each member’s potential and development.