Do you ever feel like you tell someone something and they just don't get it? Are you feeling like your voice doesn't seem to be heard? The problem might be that you are simply speaking a different language. Everyone struggles with effective communication and our inherent patterns can prevent us from getting our message across.
Last week in Communication Styles Part 1, we discussed how to give clear instructions based on the four different communication styles: Direct, Expressive, Logical and Supportive. Next we'll tackle an equally important step in the communication process. Assigning tasks is one thing, but evaluating the outcome of the task is just as vital. Discover how you can strengthen your team-based results.
Direct: Be Specific, Not Short
Direct communicators work as quickly as possible and focus on the bottom-line. You probably don't take the time to analyze results unless they're worse than what you originally expected. Think about a time when your team achieved a goal. Did you congratulate them? Now think about a time when the results were not what you wanted. Did you tell the team they needed to improve? You might realize you spent more time addressing the failure than you did the success.
Try to take a little more time to focus on the details of the outcome. Who specifically followed through with their assignment? What resources did they use? If someone made a mistake, what steps did they take to fix it? Block out some time to review the facts of the situation and give feedback based on specifics. If you give more details, your employees will know exactly what to keep doing in the future or what specific areas need improvement.
Short: "Thanks for fixing the printer. Next time, be faster."
Specific: "Ted, thanks for fixing the printer and staying under budget. I appreciate you taking the time to help out on such short notice. You knew exactly what resources to use, but it wasn't fixed until the last minute. In the future, please let me know if there will be any delays."
Expressive: Be Informed, Not Impulsive
Expressive communicators tend to evaluate circumstances based on their own viewpoint. You might judge a situation depending on how it makes you feel instead of what actually happened. When you give constructive criticism do you have any statistical data to support your suggestions? Try to make a habit of analyzing the facts and give feedback on only what is pertinent to the task.
Also make sure to remind your staff that you're available to discuss outcomes. Work together to find solutions and consider the situation from your employee's perspective.
Impulsive: "So thanks for fixing the printer, but it took you waaaaay too long to fix it. I can't imagine what you did the whole time. You cut it too close and I nearly had a heart attack. You're always procrastinating and I don't know what I'm going to do to fix this."
Informed: "Ted, thanks for fixing the printer. I appreciate the effort. However, I was concerned that it wasn't working again until just a minutes before the client presentation. I would have appreciated it if you gave me more frequent updates on your progress. Next time, please let me know if there are delays. I've noticed that you've waited until the last minute to complete the last three projects I've assigned. I'd like to schedule a time to chat about your work flow process. Hopefully we can find a better system to keep each other updated."
Logical: Be Productive, Not Picky
Logical communicators spend most of their time planning and analyzing. You prefer particular methods to complete tasks and expect your team to follow them to the letter. You have high expectations and chances are your employees might fall short. In those moments, don't sweat the small stuff. Picking apart every minor detail of someone's performance can be discouraging and even counter-productive. Everyone makes mistakes and it's up to you to weigh the severity. Consider which sections of the process are vital to productivity, and let the rest slide.
In addition, make sure to always acknowledge success and give credit when credit is due. When an employees shows improvement, give them a high-five. Keep your team motivated and inspired.
Picky: "I see that you fixed the printer. However, I noticed that you checked the ink cartridge before examining the paper tray which is the opposite order of the instructions in the manual. You also loaded the paper tray with regular paper instead of the recycled brand. Finally, you didn't finish the repair until 12:15 pm, when I specifically asked it be done by 12:00 pm."
Productive: "Hey Ted, thanks for fixing the printer, I appreciate your help. If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't have been prepared for the client presentation. However, we did have to scramble before the meeting and it was pretty hectic. Next time, I'd appreciate it if you can notify me if there will be any delays. Every minute counts and if you inform me that you won't be able to meet deadlines, we can make adjustments accordingly."
Supportive: Be Fair, Not Flexible
Supportive communicators make an effort to encourage their employees and keep them motivated. You enjoy making people happy and tend to avoid confrontation whenever possible. You accommodate to ensure that your staff likes you. However, those tendencies don't necessarily challenge your team and can lead to complacency and slacking off.
When was the last time you evaluated your team based on measurable results? Try to treat everyone fairly and enforce standards based on concrete data.
Flexible: "Hi Ted, I just wanted to thank you for fixing the printer. You did a fantastic job! :) I'm sure the repair was really difficult so I just rescheduled the client meeting for next week. You had a tough job so I just pushed everything back to make it all work out. No worries! :)"
Fair: "Hi Ted, thanks for fixing the printer, I appreciate your help! :) We were able to meet with the client, despite the rush. I know the repair wasn't easy, but next time please let me know if there is a delay. Remember to please follow the protocol we established to keep everyone up to date on progress. That way, when there are delays, we can make changes in other areas and keeps things under control."
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