When communicating with your team, it is important to watch out for any signs of mis-communication, to be open to all avenues of communication, and be willing to change direction as needed. Yet, even when trying your best to communicate well there are three big pitfalls that you need to watch out for.
Here they are:
1. Over reliance on one form of communication. For example always e-mailing the team instead of meeting face-to-face. Like we discussed in “Communicating With Your Team”, each member has their own form of communication that works best for them. You may have a majority of members that work best with email, but if that one team member is out there counting on a phone call, you as a leader have to be open and willing to use the communication methods that work best for your entire team. As a leader, you have to reach out to what works for your members instead of constantly relying on forms of communication that are only easy or convenient for you. (“Communicating With Your Team“)
2. Using the wrong medium to deliver the message. For example sending someone a text “You’re fired!” When you are trying to send a message to your team, consider the message contents and how it will be received. Information or communication that will carry heavy load on the recipient need to be handled considerately. Think of it as “dress for the occasion”. You wouldn’t wear a black tie tuxedo to a company picnic. Neither should important messages be delivered flippantly. Conversely, flippant messages should not be given more power than they warrant. So take into account what the message needs to accomplish, and give it the outfit that makes sense for the occasion.
3. Not giving someone the gift of active listing . Too many people type or play with their Blackberry’s when they should be giving someone their undivided attention. Your mother always said “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” and she was right. If you want someone to care about your business, you have to care about them, and nothing communicates more to someone that you care about what they are saying than to actively listen through eye contact, mimicking their posture, and taking the time to listen for understanding. No matter how pressed for time you are, or how un-important you may find their conversation to be, it is your job as a leader to be an active listener. Not a bad place to enact the Golden Rule of “Doing unto others”.( “How to Be An Active Listener“)
No matter what the size of your project or the nature of your team, if you plan to avoid these three pitfalls, your communication will be much smoother sailing.