“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
In part two of our three part series on communication mistakes, we are addressing one the biggest communication issues for leaders … one-way communication.
As the leader of your company, it can be hard to give up control and actually listen. Leaders tend to be directive with their communication rather than opening up to a two-way dialog.
There are many problems with this approach, not the least of which is that treats team members like cogs in a machine rather than human assets with something to contribute to the conversation. Additionally, when communication is one-way (directive) it fuels mistrust. It may not be apparent immediately, but when the culture and expectation of communication from leadership is more directive than not, people begin to mistrust the messages coming from leadership.
This can be particularly challenging for leaders because most leaders are, by nature, problem solvers. They see an issue, come up with a solution, then tell their people what needs to be done to fix the issue. As the leader, it’s important that you look at communication a little differently.
Here are a few techniques you can employ to help you appear less directive and more engaging:
- When in meetings with your management team, as you discuss goals, challenges, and solutions, always listen first and give your opinion on matters last.
The reason this is important is because, as the leader, your early opinion will sway the opinions of others and even silence many of them. If you listen first and speak last, your team will naturally open up and share ideas and solutions more readily. You just might find some gems you would have never considered!
- Listen as much as you talk.
If you have a tendency to be directive, it might take a while to draw conversation and opinion out of your team members. It’s up to you to be proactive with your efforts to do this. Call people out who are silent … “Doug, I’ve love to hear your opinion on this!” “Mary, what are your thoughts?” Ask probing questions and don’t shut people down by disagreeing right away or immediately stating that something can’t be done.
- Publicly acknowledge and celebrate ideas and solutions offered by team members when those ideas are adopted. The recognition will help foster the safe environment to offer more ideas, challenge assumptions, and encourage engagement with your team.
Communication is never truly a one-way street … even if you think it is.
As the leader, when you are directive in your communication instead of engaging, there is still multi-way communication happening. It’s just likely multi-way communication (assumptions, complaints, and gossip) between your team members that will deteriorate the culture of your company over time.
Making an intentional effort to be more engaging with your communication will pay dividends across the business and ultimately impact your bottom line in ways you might not imagine. Remember, the people you hire are your biggest asset. Empower them by engaging them!
If you’re ready to take your business and leadership skills to the next level, and if you think your business could benefit from more insights like what’s offered in this article, let’s start a conversation. LXCouncil may be the perfect next step!