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Are you communicating effectively?

A client came to me recently with an issue about a senior member of the team who was an expert in their role, but not performing effectively within the team. It was an issue that had escalated to the extent where the employee had become upset and was on the verge of giving notice.

It quickly became apparent that the employee in question was an introvert who was brimming with good ideas, but didn’t have an outlet to share them effectively. Good leadership means acknowledging there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You need to understand how to communicate with people in a way which they’ll not only appreciate, but feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts.

There should be a wide range of formal and informal communication methods in place to give and receive feedback about a person’s role and performance. Communication and feedback should be maintained on an ongoing basis and be more in line with coaching, rather than a periodic review or appraisal.

It should also be a two-way stream; people’s thoughts and suggestions about their role and the processes they carry out should be encouraged, with a range of methods in place to ensure that all communication styles are accommodated.

Effective teams are made up of a range of personality types, but work environments tend to be geared towards those who are happy to speak up in a group setting. This means that people with very valid and useful information aren’t heard or communicated with.

All people will have opinions about their roles, what works and what could be improved, so it’s very important that the communication systems in place accommodate the range of personality types. Those who are more extrovert may be comfortable with a weekly team meeting where everyone makes suggestions. People who are more introverted may be happier to give feedback or make suggestions over email or intranet. Others may be more comfortable in a quiet one to one with a supervisor.

What’s important is that line managers and leaders are aware of the fact people have different methods of communicating, and they should make it clear what methods are available and what they’re open to.