Strategies to Build Better Teamwork
Great teamwork and great leadership are not mutually exclusive. To build better teamwork, the leader should engage in these strategies:
To Build Ownership-Seek input in vision, mission, and strategic objective creation. Ask the team what they think about the future.
To Build Accountability– Describe the task, objective, or project and the associated deadlines and restraints. Allow the team to build the necessary methods and ways to accomplish the task. Do not allow team members to blame others or outside circumstances for setbacks and require team members to share credit with others involved.
To Build Participation-Ask for input from all team members. Use aggressive methods of participation that requires input from everyone. Avoid using passive methods or relying on the same, select few team members for information and participation. Require team members work with each other and with others they normally do not work with.
To Build Trust-Provide trust and trust team members.
To Build Respect-Respect team members, roles they perform, and the contributions they make. Listen to team members. Provide respect.
Leaders Gain Trust Through Communication
As far as leadership jobs go, the strong, silent type need not apply. Leadership requires a consistent stream of quality communication to team members. Communication frequency is at the core of group performance issues like trust, understanding direction, achieving objectives and even integrity.
One common mistake made by leaders is that volume makes up for frequency. So instead of talking frequently with team members, the leader simply conducts a marathon staff meeting once a month. During that meeting, the leader pines endlessly about all the issues past and current and indulges in a pontification designed to prove their commitment to quality communication. A three hour state of the organization address does not make up for a lack of consistent and frequent communication on a more personal and individual level.
In comparing volume and frequency, consider the human disconnect point in communication. In any dialog, humans report that somewhere between ninety seconds and three minutes, when the object of the dialog is not forthcoming and the content has suspect value, people disengage and cease listening. So, as a leader drones on endlessly, the target audience is left day dreaming. Visualize a Far Side cartoon when the dogs hear “blah, blah, blah, spot.” More frequent and shorter interactions will cure this phenomenon.
The other big issue surrounding communication frequency is trust. Without frequent communication, team members will often mistrust the motive of the leader and lack the personal connection and loyalty needed to be as effective as possible. Equate this to personal relationships. When communication is infrequent, trust will often sag dramatically. When communication occurs, even in troubled relationships, trust can be established as a baseline for moving forward. Relationship therapists will always work to establish frequent communication prior resolving other issues in the relationship.
Team members also report that one of their largest frustration is not knowing where they stand with the boss. They are unsure of their future and don’t know where they fit in the organization. All of these issues are curable by increasing the frequency of leadership frequency.
The easy way to improve frequency is to remember that the leadership legacy is about other people’s achievement and not your own work flow. With increased communication, your team will gain trust and work harder for you.
Communication is Critical in a Leading Role
The needs for effective communication in a leadership role are indisputable. The role of poor communication patterns and skills is equally known and understood. In fact, most issues surrounding team morale, lack of involvement, poor accountability and bad performance can be traced back to the communication of a group’s leader.
Communication is a tricky combination of art and science. In it’s basic form, communication is the flow of information between humans. The last part about being a human phenomenon is important to remember. Communication is a human connectivity that is critical to the leadership role because it enjoins people in a unique and personal way to the tasks and mission of an organization. It also relates directly to the personal nature of leadership and the connection point of why people will follow a leader. To have people to want to follow, the leader must communicate with them.
If you look at leadership as the consistent and constant application of skill sets, communication is the foundation upon all others will be built. Failed communication is the cardinal sin of leadership. Effective communication will be the rock on which the other skill sets rest.
The first concept of communication effectiveness in leadership is to understand message richness. Richness describes the total content within any communication and the connect points that a communication receiver is able connect. Richness is also highly related to the emotional nature of humans. Our team members are creatures of emotion and not creatures of logic. The greater the degree of richness, the greater the emotional connection to the message.
In-person interaction has the highest degree of richness because all parts of the message sender and receiver can be evaluated and processed. Body language can be read. Tone can be interpreted with accuracy. Clarification can be requested. Understanding can be evaluated. Rapport can be built. By far and away, one-on-one personal dialog has the highest richness.
When using the telephone, richness begins to diminish. Although tone can still be evaluated and clarification can be achieved, there are no non-verbal messages to evaluate. Similarly, in public communications, meetings and presentations, richness also fades because of the lack of interactive elements related to clarification and understanding.
Richness takes a final hit when we convert communication to the written word. With the exception of Nobel Laureate winners, most people cannot achieve any type of meaningful connectivity in writing. Even with emoticons, colored backgrounds and dancing symbols, emails have a coldness and lack any ability for clarification. Written communication also has a high probability for misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Humor and personality can rarely be translated in the written word.
One challenge to consider is compare the amount of time spent recovering from a misunderstood email to the amount of time spent to walk down the hall and talk to the recipient. Consider how much time you might spend repairing a relationship from a terse one line email. When possible, engage in interpersonal, one-on-one communication.
Fine Line Between Innovating and Copying
In a recent program, we had a spirited discussion about innovation versus replication and best practices. The leading question was about if replicating the best practices of others was really innovation.
Many people believe that they are innovating or inventing when they are just copying or borrowing the work of others. Even when they add their own spin or own take on the matter, is it really innovation?
This is a tough concept. Drawing the line between what I built and what I built using something I saw and liked is very thin. Maybe the best definition is about the number of potential solutions to an issue. When no single solution is sought, innovation can be acheived. When we work towards a single, defined solution, that is more likely to result in replicated activities.
Richness Allows Effective Communication
Ever say something that just sounded ridiculous? Wanted to have the words come back the minute they left your mouth?
Yesterday, I approached a homeless guy and asked him if he was a little down on his luck. Although he was very polite (I think he knew he as about to get lunch or beer money), his look back at me immediately told me what an idiot I was. Of course he was down on his luck. This was not Donald Trump in deep disguise. This guy did not win the lottery and was planning how to spend it. What a baffoon I was.
Besides feeling like a total loser, the lesson is clear. Clearer after I got back into my truck. Remember to engage that carburetor between my mouth and brain.
Message Richness Allows Effective Communication
Richness Allows Effective Communication
The first concept of effective communication is message richness – the message (content) and the way the sender and receiver are able to connect.
Richness is highly related to the emotional nature of humans. In essence, the greater the degree of richness, the greater the emotional connection to the message.
First and foremost, it’s important to base the importance of message richness on this undeniable fact: We’re creatures of emotion, not cold, disassociated creatures of logic. And it’s vital to understand how message richness is achieved.
Over-the-phone interaction diminishes richness. Although tone can still be evaluated and clarification can be requested, we miss the non-verbal clues.
Perhaps surprisingly, in public communications, (meetings, presentations and the like), richness also fades because of the lack of interactive elements related to clarification and understanding.
Richness takes a final hit when we convert communication to the written word. With the exception of Nobel Laureate winners, most people cannot achieve any type of meaningful connectivity in writing. Written communication has a high probability for misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Humor and personality can rarely be translated in the written word. And, even emoticons, colored backgrounds and dancing symbols, emails have are impersonal and lack ability for clarification.
So how do you establish richness?
Communication is a Tricky Human Phenomenon
Communication is a tricky combination of art and science. In its basic form, it is the flow of information between humans. In all its complexity, it surely must be regarded as a human phenomenon. Why is it so important to management leadership?
- Communication is human connectivity. It enjoins people in unique and personal ways to the tasks and mission of an organization.
- Communication is the inspiration point, the catalyst of why people follow a leader. To have people want to follow, the leader must consciously hone communication skills.