Three steps to a stronger team, pt. 2
In part one of this topic, I shared the first step in the process to stronger teams. Today, I cover step 2 which focuses solely on communication. The lack of communication can truly hurt an organization. It is a skill that separates successful teams from unsuccessful teams and there are several lessons that are covered in this step. However, when it comes to communication, the most critical part of the process is listening. In my opinion, this is the root of most communication problems I see within teams.
Steven Covey, author of the classic book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” said, “you’ve spent years learning to read and write and years learning to speak but what about listening?”.
There is an activity I do within my team building sessions called, “The Wright Family”. It’s a fun activity that generates lots of excitement and students love it. Yet it has a powerful purpose – to help participants understanding how difficult it is to listen and do something else at the same time. Unfortunately, however, it is what most people are guilty of.
Habit 5 in Covey’s book talks about the importance of “Seeking First to Understand, then to be Understood.” How well are your team members listening to each other? More specifically, how well are you listening to the other members of your team? Look at the 5 levels of listening below and determine where you fall most when someone on your team is speaking.
Level 1 – Ignoring the speaker. You are not really listening to the speaker and just waiting for your turn to speak. You have already decided what you are going to say.
Level 2 – Pretending to listen. You nod but not really paying attention. You do other things at the same time and can’t reply back what the person said.
Level 3 – Selective listening. This includes picking out the parts you are interested in or the parts that impact you. You do not get the whole message or meaning
Level 4 – Attentive listening. You focus only on the speaker and concentrate on what they have to say allowing them to finish what they say. You ask follow-up questions.
Level 5 – Active (or empathetic) listening. You are focused only on the speaker and listen carefully to the words used. You understand the feelings behind the words and recognize the emotions expressed. You talk less and listen more.
The goal within your team is to have everyone on the same level and that level should be Active Listening. Why does it matter? Because there are benefits for all parties involved. The speaker feels truly listened to, understood and their position appreciated. They feel valued and believe that their thoughts, feelings, and ideas are important to you. As the leader, this creates opportunity members of your team to truly listen when it is time for you to speak.
Once the listening skill is strong, here are three ways you can keep the communication consistent within a team.
1. Daily check-ins or key results areas (KRAs). It is vitally important for each team member to know what they are supposed to do each day. While job descriptions are great, we use KRAs to show specific tasks and responsibilities that are required. They define in detail what winning looks like in each position.
2. Weekly reports. Everyone on the team needs to be turning in a weekly report of what they have accomplished toward their KRA. This is for both the writer and the reader. It allows both to see what the team member has done to win in the position. The report also gives the team member the opportunity to add a high and a low of the week. You’ll be amazed at what they put down. But … and it’s a big but, you must respond to the report. If they have a great high, go celebrate. If there’s a bad low, go lead. If you don’t, it’s just become paperwork.
3. Monthly meetings. While meetings can sometimes have a bad rap, they are still one of the best ways to communicate with your team. You just have to make sure that you prepare for them ahead of time, set an agenda, stick to the agenda, and that the meetings are static.
As simple as this seems, there are too many teams that fail to do this. These are just a few things you can do to add to your current communication process and with technology, this can be done in even more creative ways. When done well, however, your team will feel more secure about their positions and, in turn, be considerably more positive and productive.
We have taken a dive into the second step to stronger teams, ‘Communicate’, where I shared the initial insights to get you started. The remaining step includes ‘Collaborate’, which I will cover in future articles.
If you want to strengthen your team and take your results to the next level, here are a few options to consider:
1. Work with me to lead this 3-step process or customized team building activity to strengthen your team
2. Enroll in my Building Better Teams online course so you can learn at your own pace.
Question: When it comes to working with your teams, what is your single biggest challenge that you are struggling with? Share your insights by emailing me at the contact below.
• Listed in The Nassau Guardian’s Top 40 under 40”, Keshelle Davis helps companies and individuals improve their productivity and performance. She is the CEO of The Training Authority, an entrepreneur and internationally recognized speaker and author. Formerly she served as Executive Director of the Chamber Institute – the education arm of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) and has impacted thousands through her mission is to educate, empower and inspire. Contact Keshelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.