LeadershipTips

Transformation begins with small but mighty changes.

Empathetic Listening & Negotiating

Try your hand at empathetic listening and negotiating to strengthen team communication and relationships. During your next meeting, listen to other team members and strategies they are using or plan to use in the next 30 days. Before the meeting is over, communicate at least one way you will support that strategy.

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Analyze Your Communication

Barriers and silos often exist in an organization when there is a lack of effective communication. People in different departments aren’t sharing information, causing work to get repeated or the organization to send out mixed messages. Audit your communication to identify areas to eliminate barriers that are a result of inefficient communication.

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Be Interested

Instead of focusing on the next thing you will say after the speaker is finished talking, focus on the messages being sent. Where do you need more clarification? What do you want to know more about? Develop probing and clarifying questions for the speaker to encourage them to continue communicating and facilitate deeper understanding.

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If You’re in a Hole Stop Digging

Communicate about a crisis as openly and honestly as possible. Don’t try to leave out information, mislead the public or the media, or avoid owning up to the crisis. The crisis may feel detrimental at the time. However, in the long-run, the attempt to cover it up can leave an organization’s reputation in shambles.

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The Power of Silence

Silent feedback may seem like an oxymoron, but it can be a powerful tool for collective brainstorming and reflection. In a meeting, ask each participant to write his/her response to a given question or prompt. Then, ask them to pass their papers to right, read what their colleague wrote, and provide comments or a reaction. Continue rotating the papers until each paper gets back to its owner. Ask the owner to review all comments and provide a one-sentence summary about the contents of the entire page.

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Who Needs to Know?

Every time you make a decision or are informed about a decision by senior leadership, pause and think, ‘Who else needs to know this information?’ Next, develop a plan for executing the communication via email, telephone, social media, etc., to the employees and community members you’ve identified.

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Mirror Your Leader’s Style

When approaching a conversation with your leader about their performance, use their preferred communication method. Match their communication style and be mindful of your body language.

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Practice Your Messages

Before approaching an Impact Conversation practice what you want to say with a trusted leader or colleague. Monitor your tone of voice and body language and avoid setting a negative tone by using ‘Yes, and’ instead of ‘Yes, but.’

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Keep the Purpose in Mind

Approach each conversation – formal and informal – with a specific purpose. Set clear expectations with your team.

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Communicate to Connect

The most effective communicators are those who can connect the dots for others in a way that creates clear understanding and leads to the desired outcome. After connecting with a group, our goal is always to accomplish three things:

1) make sure the listener understands the outcome or the results of the technique or tool,

2) explain how to implement the expected action, and then

3) tell a story that illustrates the impact. The key is moving from people to action.

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Know Your Audience

Communication can be used to effectively lead change. To help craft key change messages and cascade them throughout the organization, executive teams must work closely together to identify the audiences within an organization that should be targeted and reached with consistent and accurate information. It is also the responsibility of leadership to draw clear lines that connect each employee’s role to the organization’s mission and strategic actions.

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Planned Communication

Pre-planning for conversations with employees is the sign of a high-performing leader. Preparation is necessary for identifying a clear outcome from the communication, as well as the specific feedback we want to share. Identify the Key Words you will use during the conversation as well as any recent accomplishments or recognition to highlight.

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Displaying Data

One caution for the results report and the sharing of the data would be to give careful thought to the way data are broken out when displaying rates of change. Often change that appears small in a graphic display may be more significant and some changes displayed as large may not be significant. Be careful when using graphic displays to describe the accuracy of the data.

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Initiating Change

When communicating any organization goals or changes start with explaining the reason why it is necessary. Make changes only after you fully understand the process, you can’t fix what you don’t understand, and you risk alienating staff.

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Avoid Speculation

Prepare for a crisis communication press conference by brainstorming as many questions as the team can think of that the media will ask and how to answer them. Be careful not to fall into the trap of speculation or answering opinion-based questions, be open and honest but don’t talk about uncertainties, stick with the facts. Don’t assume or provide insight on to what could have happened or what might happen.

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Monitor Social Channels

Often times the first place people will look for information about an organization is on their social media pages. Organizations should have a plan for posting updates and messages about a crisis to social channels such as twitter. They should also be prepared to monitor those channels (sometimes 24 hours a day depending on the severity of the crisis) to gauge the audience’s perception of the incident and further guide communication.

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Consistency During a Crisis

Depending on the extent of the crisis, multiple audiences may need to receive information and messages from the organization. Develop key words to be used across all audiences such as investors, the public, and employees. Make messages as consistent and clear as possible to increase understanding across audiences.

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Practice Your Response

It’s normal to feel defensive when listening to a customer complain about their experience or service. Practice listening and responding to complaints with team members. Remember, the complaint isn’t personal and mostly the customer wants to feel listened to. Before responding to feedback in an emotional manner listen, empathize, and ask questions to get as much clarity as possible about the situation.

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Be Curious

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Ask open-ended questions like, “What got you interested in that field of work?” and about personal and professional interests, look for commonalities to keep the conversation going.

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Networking Opportunities are Endless

We often think networking has to be a rigid, professional experience. However, time spent at volunteer events, children’s practices and activities, and during business travel are all opportunities for valuable networking. The next time you have the opportunity, introduce yourself to someone new and strike up a conversation.

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Develop Specific Job Descriptions

When crafting a job description, be as clear and detailed as possible. Provide an accurate picture of what’s required for the position. Avoid using terms such as “ninja,” “rockstar,” “guru,” or “wizard,” which are vague and do little to contribute to the actual responsibilities of the job. Think carefully about the words you use, and whether or not they deter applicants from applying for the available position.

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Commit to Following-Through

Owners do whatever it takes to get the job done. This may require overcoming barriers, or additional resources or personnel. Own the work by following-up and following-through with all people involved. When you handover a customer to another employee, follow-up to be sure the customer’s needs were met. Close the communication loop with customers and colleagues about progress on projects, next steps, and completed actions.

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Take Advantage of Digital Media

Social networks like LinkedIn that have a professional audience can be useful to your career. Keep social profiles refreshed with your accomplishments and skill development. Consider using a form of digital media such as a blog or website to create a portfolio for others to view your work and stay up to date on your accomplishments and progress.

 

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Keep Your Network Informed

Stay in touch with past colleagues, industry friends, old classmates and others in your network. Update your network when you achieve new accomplishments, develop or advance your skills, successfully complete new projects, achieve outstanding results, or complete a degree or certification.

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Allow Time to Process Survey Results

After your initial review of survey data, allow yourself time to process the results. Take a break from the data and return to it later. Recognize your emotional reactions and shift your negative responses to positive, productive responses. This will prepare you to calmly communicate the data to your team and welcome their input.

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Learn from Mentees

Both a mentor and mentee can benefit from valuable feedback from one another. The original purpose of the relationship may be to guide the mentee, however, mentors can learn a thing or two from those with less professional experience. Next time you meet with your mentee ask for their perspective on an upcoming decision or project or ask for feedback around your leadership style.

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Ask How to Improve Communication

Gather feedback from your employees and the community (investors, customers, people who benefit from your organization) regarding your communication. Do they receive too much communication, or too little? Are they able to understand the communication and find it relevant? What improvements do they recommend? Review the responses and tailor the organization’s communication practices to their preferences.

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Use Social Media to Increase Transparency

Social media facilitates transparent communication by reaching your community where they already spend time. How can your organization use social media to create an authentic connection with its audience? What about posting a quick ‘behind-the-scenes’ picture or the answer to a frequently asked question? Identify one thing you can do this week to show your organization’s authenticity on social media and post it!

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Communicate Consistently

Offer a consistent place for your internal audience and your external audience to find information about your organization. The internal and external communication spaces can be separated, however, they should both contain honest, open, timely communication. It’s important to include meaningful updates on issues stakeholders care about, upcoming events, insight into the company’s strategies and processes, upcoming changes, and challenges within the industry.

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Sharing Data

After we have gathered data, it’s important to close the feedback loop and share the results with our organization’s stakeholders, such as employees and the community. Conversations with stakeholders around the data provide opportunities to gain additional information and identify wins, gaps, and possible strategies for reducing gaps.

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Use Scorecards to Communicate Purpose

Using a scorecard, help employees see how their daily actions inspire progress that leads to meaningful results. Employees are more likely to be engaged when they see how their work aligns to the organization’s mission and values.

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What’s Working Well?

Even the highest performing employees appreciate check-ins with their leader. Meet with your direct reports on a monthly basis to talk about what is going well, what can be improved, what support is needed, and what progress the individual has made on their quarterly and/or annual plans.

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Anticipate Questions

In preparation for an employee forum, consider sending out a request for questions from employees beforehand.  Doing so will give some employees more time to think about what they would like to ask the senior executive, as well as prepare the leader by reviewing what information employees are curious about.

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Discuss Available Leadership Development

What resources can upcoming leaders take advantage of to develop their skills? Are there external professional development opportunities available? Can aspiring leaders easily access the necessary resources? Connect with identified aspiring leaders and show them the available resources aligned to their leadership development needs.

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Communicate Your Superpowers

Spend time as a team discussing each individual’s strengths and natural communication tendencies. To build stronger work relationships, make an effort to communicate with team members in their preferred communication style. Brainstorm how to use each other’s strengths to accelerate results.

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Clarify with the Team

As we reflect on what’s working well, identify areas with opportunities for improvement, and develop the needed adjustments to actions for execution. It’s the leader’s responsibility to clarify those actions with the team. Communicate clearly about which initiatives and priorities are no longer the focus and which 1-3 areas are more important. Align the team’s actions to the desired goals, and establish the next steps and who will own those steps.

 

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Recognize Using Social Media

Incorporate rewarding and recognizing team members into your social media strategy. People are attracted to their ’15 minutes of fame’ and sharing a post recognizing team members publicly is an easy way to make them feel appreciated and a way to show the community what you value. If your organization doesn’t use social media, consider a consistent spot in the newsletter instead.

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Use Feedback to Motivate

Many individuals crave feedback at work. It lets us know we’re on the right track, and reveals areas for improvement. The best feedback results from asking questions such as, “What is going well and why is it going well?,” “Are you experiencing any barriers? Why?,” and “How have you overcome similar barriers in the past?.” Use these prompts next time you’re providing feedback to a team member.

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Communicate Progress

The stoplight colors are an easy and quick way to communicate progress toward achieving a goal. The green, yellow, and red colors are used to show the status in relation to achieving the goals. There is at least one measure (data set) for each goal. If there is no progress towards the goal, red is used. If the goal has been reached, we used green. A stoplight chart is a simple way to monitor progress and is a great visual communication tool.

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Be Aware of Nonverbal Communication

During conversations with your team members, pay close attention to their nonverbal communication. If a person’s body language and their verbal responses don’t match, this could be a sign to clarify what the person is trying to say.

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Gathering Feedback

To obtain meaningful feedback and achieve effective prioritization, we communicate the why, what, and how before, during, and after the listening process. Explain why gathering feedback is important, what we expect from our shareholders, and how their input will be used to make decisions.

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Be Open to Feedback

Thank your colleague who cares enough to speak up and provide you with feedback. Feedback is a caring gesture meant to help you grow.

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Check Before You Send

Avoid embarrassing and sometimes costly mistakes by double checking every email before you click send. Once it goes out, you can’t get it back.

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The Silent Communication

The most important part of communication is hearing what isn’t being said. During conversations, pay close attention to what body language is saying.

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Question for Better Answers

Instead of asking, “Do you have any questions?,” ask, “What can I explain better?” You can probe further by asking, “Can you be more specific?,” “What makes you say that?,” “Can you give me an example?,” and “Why do you think that’s working?”

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Respond Proactively

Identify changes that could occur in your organization’s near future and create a plan for how you’d quickly respond to those changes to sustain excellence. This plan should consider different stakeholder groups such as employees, the community, and possibly news media. Include key words to use when communicating with each group.

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Thrive in the Face of Adversity

Pause for 2 to 5 seconds to think today before you respond. Your response is always a choice, even in the most difficult situations, and sets an example for others to follow.

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Support Your Colleagues

Add time in your meetings today to give the opportunity for others to share their ideas. This will encourage diverse thinking and problem solving.

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