You know that your business is doing well if you have hired more people. Your growing workforce is evidence of demand for your products and of the fact that you were able to afford to hire more employees. Somehow, though, you feel even more overwhelmed than when your company was just three people working out of your dining room. The more people that are involved in a project, the more you need to communicate. Organizational communication can be a challenge if you are used to talking about your ideas among a small group of people who have worked together for a long time. Communication training for leaders could be the missing ingredient that helps your newly successful business stay successful.
Communication Training for Leaders Helps Businesses Large and Small
When you scale your business or quickly increase the number of employees, there are so many opportunities for miscommunication. Lapses in communication can tank your productivity. Three friends who have been working on a project together since college hardly have to speak to understand each other, but it is a different situation with people who just met each other. Even if you have only hired one new employee, communicating with the new employee about your business activities can be harder than you think. The new hire has been working in a different context while your original crew has been working together. Therefore, it is easy to talk past each other instead of to each other without realizing it. The best solution is communication training for leaders.
How Miscommunications Can Sabotage Your Hard Work
Communication problems in the workplace can make for a frustrating work environment. These are just some of the problems that can arise from communication failure in the workplace:
• Interpersonal conflicts
• Employees missing deadlines because they did not know about them
• Clients getting contradictory information from different employees
• Low employee morale
• Taking longer than necessary to complete tasks
You can address these problems through communication training for leaders. In this type of leadership training, you can learn to formulate your plans in detail, alone or among a small group of managers. Next, you decide which members of your organization need to receive which instructions. You can find out which information is best-communicated face-to-face and interactively and which is best suited to emails that employees can reread as necessary. In fiction writing, it is called the law of conservation of detail, but it works for leadership communication, too.
The Three Modes of Communication: Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational
When you are just talking at people, you are not really communicating. It is unpleasant to work with someone who talks incessantly, just to hear the sound of their own voice. Simply reducing the word count is not enough to improve the quality of your communication. Effective communication is not just about how much, it is also about how. Some of the most important elements of communication do not involve talking at all.
It is useful for leaders to be aware of the three different modes of communication, just as it is for people who are learning a new language. The theory of the three modes of communication is a useful framework for leadership communication, just as it is for second language acquisition. These are the three modes of communication:
• Interpretive communication- You understand what someone else is saying to you. Interpretive communication can take the form of reading or listening to discourse. When you are simply interpreting, you do not give responses except to paraphrase, summarize, or comment on what you have read or heard. Interpretive communication always involves understanding the surface-level meaning of the discourse. Sometimes it also involves making inferences about things that the speaker or writer did not directly say but wanted to express.
• Interpersonal communication – In interpersonal communication, at least two people are contributing to the discourse. From the perspective of learning a second language, it is the most challenging, because you must simultaneously produce your own speech and interpret the speech of other. It is also challenging when all participants in the conversation are native speakers or non-native speakers with a high level of proficiency in the language. Interpersonal communication involves quick decisions and attention to politeness and social appropriateness.
• Presentational communication – You are communicating a self-contained message and not expecting an immediate, real-time response from the audience. Presentational communication can take the form of writing or giving a prepared speech before an audience.
Many professionals understand the importance of presentational communication enough to be self-conscious about it and to seek out ways to improve their presentational communication skills. Some business schools require students to take courses in public speaking. Even the ones that do not often require oral presentations as a component of some courses. Organizations like Toast Masters attract a lot of participation from people in a variety of professions who wish to become more effective at presentational communication.
Presentational communication is not the only type of communication that is important for leaders in the workplace, though. The performing arts are full of people who have stage presence in spades but who are shy, awkward, or downright rude in interpersonal interactions. Don’t assume that you do not need communication training for leaders just because you are a natural at speaking in front of an audience. Even if your presentational communication skills are excellent, your manner of interacting with others may be seriously in need of improvement. The good news is that it is possible to learn the skills of interpretive and interpersonal communication as well.
How to Be a Better Listener
Your team members, clients, and everyone else in your work environment will respond more positively to your ideas if they feel that you are truly listening to them. Being a good listener in a fast-paced work environment can be a challenge. These are some small and measurable ways to send the message that you are listening:
• Do not let your smartphone or other devices distract you. Keep your phone in your pocket or face-down on a table when you are talking to a coworker.
• If you do not have time to give a coworker your full attention, but you need to talk about something important, set up a time to meet. It doesn’t have to be a formal appointment. For example, if your mind is buzzing with the email responses you have to draft, then tell your coworker that you will come to their office in an hour after you finish answering a few emails.
• Paraphrase what your conversation partner just said.
• Ask follow-up questions.
• Do not interrupt. If you urgently need to say something, such as to clear up a misunderstanding, wait until you hear a punctuation mark.
• Interpersonal communication does not always mean coming up with a detailed response at the moment. Sometimes “let me think about it” is the best and most honest response.
There Is No Substitute for Credibility
Getting your coworkers to take you seriously is about more than just developing the perfect public speaking diction. Effective communication among a team of coworkers requires trust, and trust requires credibility. These are some ways that managers can gain the trust of their teams:
• Own up to your mistakes instead of passing the blame.
• Don’t promise to do things that you know will be difficult to accomplish.
• Admit it when you do not know an answer to a question and then, when you have time, try to find an answer.
• Do not gossip or badmouth people. It is unprofessional.
• Give credit to others who have contributed to the work that you are discussing.
Communicating in Difficult Situations
When people seek out communication training for leaders, it is usually not just because they are shy about speaking in front of a group. You have achieved your current level of professional success through your knowledge of your professional field and your interpersonal skills. Where leaders need the most help with communicating is when they are dealing with the most challenging situations.
You know about keeping emails brief and not scheduling meetings to say things that you could effectively say by email. Where you need help is in resolving conflicts among members of your team. Should you act as an intermediary or a mediator between two coworkers who do not get along with each other? You cannot ignore the problem, because their disputes affect the work of the entire team. Challenging situations like these are what lead managers to seek outside guidance about leadership communication. In situations like these, you might want workplace conflict resolution training.
Introverts Can Be Effective Communicators, Too
One of the best reasons to pursue communication training for leaders is if you are used to working alone. Your focus while working alone has enabled you to develop a unique product. For your business to continue to grow, however, you will need to develop your communication skills.
Fortunately, training courses and workshops of varying sizes and duration are available to help business leaders improve their workplace communication skills. You can choose the format that best meets the needs of your organization. Give us a call to find out more about your leadership communication training options.