When it comes to navigating the new normal during a global pandemic, communication is key for keeping teams engaged, focused, and accountable. Communication is the vehicle for shaping work environments and driving momentum especially in leading remote teams. Regardless if you’re in the office part-time, full-time, or still working from home, frequent communication about organizational status, priorities, customers, the marketplace, new initiatives, and progress against existing initiatives gives employees a sense of certainty and understanding about what is happening. When people know what is going on they do not have to count on back-channeling and gossip for their information.
When an organization is not performing or employees are not meeting expectations it can usually be attributed to a breakdown in communication. Quite often organizations underestimate the power of communication, the leaders assume their message is cascading effectively, or there is a missing framework for communication. These breakdowns wreak havoc on organizational culture and performance.
A powerful vehicle for organizational momentum is Communications Intelligence.
There are two pieces to Communications Intelligence. One is understanding the “what’s so” about how people listen and the second is understanding the “what’s so” about how speakers communicate. When there is a lack of communication, employees are forced to fill in the blanks, almost never with positive empowering thoughts. On the other hand, even when there is communication, it is often misunderstood or misinterpreted and it misses the mark of the speakers’ intention. This happens for a few reasons.
When conversations take place between a speaker and a listener, the first thing that happens is the listener has a biochemical reaction to the speaker and what they are saying. If the reaction is positive, the listener is more open to hear and react in a conscious manner. However, if the communication is interpreted as negative or threatening in any way, the bio-reaction hijacks the listener’s attention. What the listener is left with is conclusions about what was said, based on their personal interpretations.
Training is a critical component in empowering leaders to communicate more effectively. Everyone in a people management role needs to get more curious and infuse more questions into their communication. Questions bring employees back to the present moment and get them out of their thoughts. When leaders and managers are curious and ask questions that engage and connect with their team, people are more likely to listen and hear what is said.
Another tool for effective communication is collaborative conversations. When business leaders invite employees into the conversation making them collaborative, the leader has the ability to move people from the space of mistrust to the space of conditional trust. Conditional trust is necessary to gain buy-in and cooperation. When employees are in a trusting state of mind, they are more open, willing, and likely to hear the real message being delivered and respond in a yes and…” framework to your communication.
While speaking is the one side of the communication intelligence coin