You cannot not communicate
Why do people at work want to know what is happening in the company? To be honest, in any situation, we are naturally concerned with things that affect us and want information that helps us make sense of it. When we have that knowledge, we feel as if we have more control over the situation. Where there is an information vacuum, we fill the void with speculation, ideas and guesses. Typically, these are not normally happy, positive thoughts because we are prone to worry.
It’s very important to us to know what is happening at work because it affects our performance and our daily lives. We want to know that we are part of something with purpose. We want to know our cog in the overall machine makes a difference. We also like to know we are part of a bigger team and that what we are spending our working hours doing eventually has a positive impact on others. It makes it all worthwhile.
Spending time in more formal ways updating our team on what is happening in the company shows our team they are important to us. They recognise that it takes time and effort to collate and prepare information for sharing and communicating important messages shows you care about how people feel. It also means the business narrative doesn’t get off track with stories based on half-truth and keeps people connected to the bigger purpose.
Sharing information is critical for helping people make informed and effective decisions. It also raises awareness of the wider business impact of what they decide. If we want our people to get better at decision-making, we need to allow them access to all the information they need.
Here’s some handy tips that help with the more informal ways we communicate:
- As leaders we are always communicating even if we don’t consciously realise it. For example, if we walk through the office and don’t stop to say hello to anyone in the team, what does this say to people?
- Just by being visible we’re sending a message. So next time you’re going to get coffee, take the ‘long walk’ and spend some time connecting with people you don’t normally interact with
- If you find yourself griping, take the gripe back to the person you have an issue with. Let them know what behaviour has upset or derailed you rather than sharing with others. It takes courage, but in the long run builds trust, better relationships and a true feedback culture
- When your train is delayed, would you rather have no announcement at all, or an announcement telling you when it’s likely to arrive? It’s probably the latter and it’s an easy principle to apply at work
- Seek feedback on your non-verbal communication, what are you leaking? What does your ‘resting face’ say? Be aware that your face is saying something when you’re not concentrating on composing it for the world, what’s the story it’s telling? Ask someone!
The point is really that at work and in our lives, being aware that we are always communicating means we are potentially influencing the dynamic of any situation or relationship and it’s in our gift to change things. As a leader, this is potentially even more important as your team will be taking their steer from you. Let us know how you get on!