Guest Post by Hailey McCall

Leadership plays a significant role in cultivating a company's culture. What leadership communicates to employees, is an indicator of the values they hold, while the actions they take, regarding those values, let's everyone know just how seriously they take those principles.

Unfortunately, some leaders don’t communicate their beliefs, while others think they're conveying their stance, but the message isn't getting through. As a result, the employees are acting inconsistently to the company’s values.

This misalignment in company culture can have a devastating impact on the overall business, which is why leadership should always look to themselves first when trying to fix a broken culture.

Signs Your Communication Skills Need Improvement

There's no denying that leadership is stressful on many levels. When your team isn't on the same page, it only makes the job harder. That is why effective communication is so necessary.

To determine whether or not your effectively communicating with your team, answer the next 3 questions honestly:
  1. Do you find that you’re repeating yourself often?
  2. Is your team constantly redoing work that wasn't correct the first time?
  3. During tasks, are your team members constantly frustrated with you and arguing with each other?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you're going to want to read on because a large part of your job as leader, is to make sure you're communicating clearly. Without communication, your team will inevitably fail, and the culture you desire - will crumble.

Below are 5 useful tips that will improve your ability to deliver an effective message. This is so valuable for bringing to life a company culture, and beyond.

#1: A Clear and Consistent Methodology

There are a number of ways to communicate; the question is, how? Workplace leaders need to use a method that works best not only for themselves, but also for their team.

We often get caught up with what we feel comfortable doing, and forget that it may not work for those who need to get the message. If the message isn't understood, it's on the messenger, not the listener.

On top of that, you want to make sure communications are in a format that can be referred back to in case of a miscommunication or misrepresentation. There are many types of referable communication, but here are a few options:

  • Pen and Paper - Taking notes during discussions, filling in calendars with deadlines/reminders, and leaving sticky notes is truly effective. In fact, it's my preferred technique. To me, this is the most effective way to get my thoughts straight, and deliver a message.

  • E-mail - This option is useful because it keeps a record for you. A daily newsletter can update employees on project statuses, policy news, or request team input on problems. Scheduling it daily or weekly adds an element of predictability to your communication.

  • Apps - Everyone has a smartphone, so apps like Trello or Evernote (note/list sharing apps) are extremely effective. These apps keep all your information organized, consolidated, and available from anywhere with an internet connection. The only drawback might be whether employees actually monitor the app like they should.

Pick a method or combination of methods that will encourage clarity in your messaging, but stay consistent once you've picked your style. Switching techniques can confuse employees. And confused employees are unproductive employees. Unproductive employees are unhappy employees.

#2: Plan Your Delivery

When we plan on communicating an idea, we tend to just do it. As a result, the information we planned to communicate comes out jumbled. To avoid this, you're going to want to develop a plan for how you’ll deliver your message.

For example: If you need to meet a deadline that requires specific procedures, create a checklist or rubric that will allow employees to definitively evaluate and report their progress (give them that form at the start of each project). Your expectations are clearly laid out, the timetable is clearly established, and the chain of responsibility is clearly communicated.

By taking the time to think through your delivery, you've set yourself up for success during this project and the many projects to come.

Now if you choose a method and it doesn't work the first time - that's okay. Learn from it, and improve. These things take time, and our initial thoughts don't always bring the best results.

#3: Be Specific

When it comes to letting an individual or group know what you expect from them, you need to be specific. Employees make faster, more accurate decisions with less supervision when they have a clear picture of what you need and what your values are.

You also need to clarify. Lead by example and make sure to ask questions when you don’t understand something or think others might not understand. Then encourage others to ask questions too.

They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and it's true. I highly recommend cultivating a question-asking attitude in your workplace. It's your best bet for an office that communicates.

#4: Regular Check Ins

As a leader, you are in charge of taking the initiative and checking in on progress, results, and the plan moving forward. Find a way to check in with people individually and as a team on a regular basis.

Of the two, the individual check-in is the easiest way to connect with your employees and get their input since there's a little less pressure. This can mean sitting down for a formal one-on-one meeting or taking an employee out to lunch - it's totally up to you. The key is to pick a method that shows you mean what you value.

You can’t expect from others what you won’t give yourself. Make sure to stay accountable to your employees through your individual meetings or for general team meetings/emails to let them know what you have been doing and what you expect them to be doing.

Be clear about when and where you’re available for employees to touch base with you when they need it, whether that’s anywhere 24/7 or at specific times in specific places. Set the example to your employees that open communication is the norm and they will follow suit, making communication around your entire workplace easier.

#5: A Good Attitude

The tone with which you talk to your employees speaks volumes. No one wants to be around someone who is constantly disrespectful, unkind, or has a superiority complex. Bosses have a bad reputation for, well, being bossy. They aren’t engaged with their employees, so their employees aren’t engaged with them. So don’t be a boss - Be a leader.

Lead your employees in the direction you want them to go, culturally and otherwise. Be involved in their work and communicate what you need/want from them. You don’t have to be bubbly and outgoing if that isn’t who you are. People certainly respect when leaders are their genuine selves. But you should be positive, kind, and encouraging. The words you use, or the methods you use to convey them, are meaningless if your attitude doesn’t back them up.

Strong communication is the key to building a company culture you'll love. Leaders can easily build a culture of communication by being clear, concise, and specific about what they expect and envision for the company or team. By communicating your values as a leader, your employees are better able to build the actions of the company consistently and contribute to a better company culture that is in line with the vision you have.

Try implementing these practices around the office and watch communication and culture improve.

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Article By: Hailey McCall

About the Author

Hailey McCall is a company culture blogger and copywriter for small businesses, growing companies,
and HR departments. Check out her work on her blog
or follow her on Twitter for more company
culture advice.

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