Communicate better; your team needs it

Authentic leadership requires effective ways of engaging people, here are some practical suggestions.

A regular newsletter will cut down on email volumes if you and your management team are disciplined about compiling information about what’s happening. If your team know they get a batch of short updates in a visually appealing format every second Friday they will read this much more diligently than the running commentary in their inbox. Make sure the content is rich with facts and figures, add links to useful websites, upcoming events, birthdays and other useful information – once you have invested time to get it going it will serve you and the team very well[1st of 5 paragraphs]

Weekly coffee catchup; everyone meets for a quick standup at 10am every Friday – it’s very informal and anyone in the team can also make announcements. Awards are given for that week’s top performers – joiners and leavers are announced and I also talk about what I’ve been doing during the week – it’s a great way to reconnect and people love staying up to date with what’s happening outside the team. Don’t under-estimate the power of sharing simple information in a simple format in an open and transparent way – put yourself on the spot (literally) in front of your team on a regular basis. [2/5]

Mobile chat groups can also be very useful, corporate platforms such as Lync or public apps such as Whatsapp are quick to set up and easy to use. Set clear guidelines and ensure that usage is voluntary as many people prefer using their phones only for private calls and messaging. The vast majority will be passive users of such groups but gain immense value from the instant access to information – provided you share it quickly, efficiently and most importantly; appropriately. [3/5]

Still the most powerful medium of communication is the sit down conversation between 2 people. No technology or modern technique can ever replace the true essence of human nature – the need for real and meaningful interaction. Everyone in our team has a 1:1 with their manager every month and a follow up email, cc myself summarizing the key points. I also have a 1:1 with everybody once a year – it’s amazing the insights you get when you make yourself available and just listen to people (read this article about the importance of knowing when to shut up and listen.) [4/5]

People need to communicate – meet that need by reading your team correctly and deepen your leadership credibility with meaningful initiatives. Some ideas won’t work – give every idea a chance but if people aren’t responding then drop it and try something else or ask someone to champion it in a different way. Communication methods that take root in your team culture will add visible and sustainable value; allow them to flow and develop naturally – soon you will wonder how you ever managed without them. [5/5]

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