Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Communication Part 2 - It Makes the Team a Team!

Communication happens on many levels. Formal and informal. Verbal and non-verbal. Successful leaders recognize the many forms of communication and the various channels. They are adept at using them to benefit the entire team.

Communication is what makes organizations work. The effectiveness of communication (or the lack of it) can be found everywhere in an organization and within a team. It ultimately is the leaders responsibility to ensure communication happens. The leader must be adept at using both formal and informal means to ensure the message is getting out and must also ensure that what is being communication in both types of systems is similar.

I've written before about secrets and how they can destroy an organization.The corollary to that is ensuring that the messages that are being sent are accurately portrayed and ensure that they are accurately received. Allowing the communication to be misinterpreted will have a similar result--it allows for the disintegration of the organization. And it will only cause problems later.

Leaders are the key to communication. They must develop a "transparent" approach to activities and ensure that the team is aware of developments and activities. And this doesn't just mean email. Communication is a process that requires the use of multiple transmission modes: verbal and non-verbal. And then there are the formal and informal means. Consider the difference to be the difference between a newspaper and a blog. Both get the news out--but each will have it's own spin on the truth. Good leaders know what is being said on the "grape-vine."

Here is a danger. something big is up and the team knows it. But, then nothing is heard formally. This is when the informal communications network takes over. In an information void rumors and speculation abound. And morale can plummet Openness is the key. Transparency. Leaders must bring as much to their team about what is happening as possible.

Another aspect of communication regards the day-to-day operations of the team. Keep them open. Constant communication will help a team come together. Years ago there was a management philosophy called: "Management by walking around." I like that concept. Don't just talk about work when you walk around. Go deeper into communications and find about about people's lives. What makes them tick. Why they are who they are. Find opportunities to catch people in the middle of doing good work. And praise them. In front of others. Let them know you saw what they were doing and appreciate it. Communicate your approval. Give them a high five!

Learn about communication. Develop your leadership skills and one of the key tools is communication. Try it! Communication is a unifying force when used properly.

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