18
Jan

5 Easy Ways To Enhance Communication at Work

5 Easy Ways To Enhance Communication at Work

5 Easy Ways To Enhance Communication at Work

Image credit: Shutterstock

There’s a fantastic video on YouTube of babies vigorously talking to one another. It’s impossible to watch that video without cracking a smile. They’re trying so hard, but they just can’t quite seem to get their meaning across.

It’s a lot less funny when it’s two grown adults yelling at one another in the office. Or, even worse, a whole team failing to communicate in a healthy way and devolving into “Let’s see who can shout the loudest and interrupt the most often.”

Communication is tough. Ninety-seven percent of of employees and executives agree that a lack of team alignment negatively impacts performance, and 86 percent believe that ineffective communication leads to workplace failures.

Since Tailored Ink is still small, communication hasn’t been too difficult. At a startup, everyone knows everything. But as we scale, keeping in touch with everyone will become harder and harder.

If you are struggling with team communication, try out these five ways to enhance communication:

1. Get it down in writing.

The first rule of office communication: Don’t expect anyone to remember what you say to them, even if you are the boss.As our personal and work lives become increasingly digital and filled with online distractions, human attention spans have gotten shorter and shorter. At last count, the average adult has an attention span of eight seconds — worse than a goldfish. On top of that, stress negatively impacts our short-term memory.

If you have a particularly old school manager who refuses to write things down and expects you to take dictation, do just that. Write down what they say as soon as they say it so you can hold them accountable for things they didn’t say.

2. Know your personality types.

Another great way to communicate better both in one-on-one interactions as well as team meetings is to know the Myer’s Briggs personality types of each of your coworkers.

For example, I’m an INTJ (“The Architect”). The “I” in “INTJ” stands for “Introversion”, and if I’m to be totally honest, I prefer as few in-person meetings and phone calls as possible. My partner, on the other hand, is the exact opposite and we’ve had to compromise to figure out the right communication balance.

If you’re rolling your eyes right now, or if you believe that personality tests are inaccurate, science disagrees with you. While it is true that our personalities can change slightly through life via learned behaviors, big personality traits like introversion and extroversion are determined at birth, and are based on how you process dopamine.

In other words, don’t try to force someone to communicate the way you do. They could literally be hardwired differently.

3. Have an open-door policy.

We’ve all worked at corporations or cubicle farms where managers in corner offices always keep the door closed, and can be visited by appointment only. One of my managers was so ornery during work that she would snap at anyone who distracted her in a shared office space.

Guess what? A closed door is like the Black Death of team communication. Leaders set the tone and culture of their teams, so if a manager is inscrutable and impossible to pin down for a chat, the whole team clams up in turn. No one will have the confidence to speak to anyone, the office will become as quiet as a library, and morale will plummet (along with productivity).

Instead, keep your door open. Just do it. Even though it may lead to a few more distractions, few employees will abuse an open-door policy. And you’ll be amazed at the conversations you never had with people you thought you knew.

4. Do a daily stand-up meeting.

In what feels like another life, I interned at an indie game studio. And what stood out to me the most (aside from the awkward coders and the whimsical break room) was the daily morning scrum.Also called a stand-up meeting in non-tech circles, this type of daily meeting should never go over 10 minutes and is mostly for the sake of managers who will get a quick status update from everyone on their teams. It’s a fantastic way to make sure everyone is on the same page and also a sneaky way of project managing without having to rely on messy schedules and timesheets.

Another, less obvious benefit of the stand-up meeting is that it keeps everyone accountable. Instead of forcing someone to follow a static, complex schedule, you give each team member personal responsibility for finishing their work on time.

5. Encourage team members to blog.

Finally, you don’t have to be a content manager or marketer to find value in keeping a lively company blog. When only 28.9 percent of millennials are engaged at work (71 percent are not), being able to contribute on a regular basis to a part of the brand that’s very public, like a blog, is incredibly empowering.

As I mentioned earlier, not everyone’s a talker who can dominate an in-person meeting or conference call. You’d be surprised at what your coworkers will say and contribute when they’re given the freedom to write on company time.

There’s also a lot of great team communication software. I believe in understanding and internalizing the reason for doing something before learning how to do it. That being said, there are a lot of fantastic and affordable team messaging and project management software solutions.

You probably already know about Slack, Trello and Asana — but have you tried Smartsheet, Wunderlist or Zip Schedules? Since most of these apps have free trials (some are even permanently free for small teams), you should try out as many as you can. Find out what works best for you and your team.

And remember the old saying — people quit their bosses, not their jobs. Communication is what ultimately determines whether you retain talent or lose valuable team members to competitors. If that’s not worth investing time and effort into, you’re doing things wrong.

18
Jan

10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

No one ever became a great leader without first becoming a great communicator.

Great leaders connect with people on an emotional level every time they speak. Their words inspire others to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Great communicators are intentional about it, and there are 10 secrets they rely on to deliver a powerful message. Put these secrets to work in your communication and watch your influence soar.

1. They Know Their Audience

Great communicators don’t worry about sounding important, showing off their expertise, or boosting their own egos. Instead, they think about what people need to hear, and how they can deliver this message so that people will be able to hear it. This doesn’t mean that leaders tell people what they want to hear. Quite the opposite—they tell people what’s important for them to know, even if it’s bad news.

2. They Are Experts In Body Language

Great communicators are constantly tracking people’s reactions to their message. They are quick to pick up on cues like facial expressions and body language because they know this is the only feedback many people will give them. Great communicators use this expertise to tailor their message on the fly and adjust their communication style as needed.

3. They Are Honest

The best leaders know that for communication to be effective it has to be real. They can’t have people parsing every word trying to separate fact from spin. When great communicators can’t share certain information, they come right out and say it because makeshift, half-truth answers breed distrust and anxiety. In good times and bad, honesty builds trust.

4. They Are Authentic

Great communicators don’t try to be someone they’re not just because they’ve stepped behind a podium. There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg presented Facebook to investors in a hoodie and jeans. Great leaders know that when they stay true to who they are, people gravitate to their message. They also know the opposite happens when leaders put on an act.

5. They Speak With Authority

Great communicators don’t try to cover their backs by being ambiguous, wishy-washy, or unassertive. Instead, they stick their necks out and speak very directly about how things are and how they need to be.

6. They Speak To Groups As Individuals

Leaders rarely have the luxury of speaking to one person at a time. Whether it’s a huddle around a conference table or an overflowing auditorium, great leaders know how to work the room and make every single person feel as if he or she is being spoken to directly.

7. They Have Ears (And They Use Them)

Great leaders know that communication is a two-way street and what they hear is often more important than what they say. When someone else is speaking, great communicators aren’t thinking ahead and planning what they’ll say next. Instead, they’re actively listening, fully focused on understanding the other person’s perspective.

8. They Use Phrases Like ‘It’s My Fault,’ ‘I Was Wrong,’ and ‘I’m Sorry’

When great leaders make a mistake, they admit it right away. They don’t wait for someone else to find and point out their blunder. They model accountability for their words and actions, even when they could have easily “gotten away” with the mistake. And they do it matter-of-factly, without drama or false humility.

9. They Solicit Feedback

The best communicators never assume that the message people heard is the exact same one they intended to deliver. They check in to verify that their message was understood correctly, and, if it was not, they don’t blame the audience. Instead, they change things up and try again.

10. They’re Proactive

Leaders with the best communication skills don’t waste time playing catch-up. They’re quick to head off the rumor mill by sharing bad news in a timely manner. They also give clear, concise goals and directions so people don’t waste their time heading in the wrong direction.

Bringing It All Together

Great communicators stand out from the crowd. They’re honest. They’re authentic. They listen. They excel in communication because they value it, and that’s the critical first step to becoming a great leader.

18
Jan

The 10 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

The 10 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

The 10 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

Image credit: Shutterstock

Contrary to their portrayal in pop culture, entrepreneurs aren’t purely “idea people,” dreaming up revolutionary new concepts and introspectively coming to profound conclusions about their industry — though they are that, at times. Instead, entrepreneurs spend most of their days in the trenches, working hard with others to make those ideas a reality. How entrepreneurs communicate tends to dictate whether or not they are ultimately successful; even great ideas can flounder if a leader isn’t communicating effectively.

That said, there’s more to communication than just “communication” — there are actually several distinct skills within the subject that you’ll have to master, sometimes independently:

1. Conversing

Conversation is one of the most basic forms of communication, but don’t underestimate it. A simple, friendly conversation with your employees can build trust and expose issues before they become serious. An innocuous bit of small talk with a stranger can turn into a sales opportunity. Learn to speak in an approachable, friendly way that you can apply to any situation.

2. Body Language 

Much of communication is nonverbal, so mastering your body language presentation is a must. In any situation, posture matters — sit or stand up straight with your shoulders back and your head high and straight. Look people in the eye. Don’t fidget. Keep your hands out of your pockets. And these are just the basics! Mastering body language can allow you to command a room.

3. Writing

You don’t have to be a perfect writer, but you do need to learn to be direct and concise in written forms. You’ll be emailing and texting people within and outside your organization regularly, and it’s important that you communicate your ideas clearly in this medium, with minimal opportunities for misinterpretation.

4. Presenting

You’ll be presenting in a few different formats as an entrepreneur, but they can be collectively grouped into one skill. You may be presenting company financials to your top employees or investors. You may present your business’ services to an interested buyer. You may even give a speech about entrepreneurship at a speaking event. In all these cases, clarity, conciseness, confidence and poise are all key.

5. Negotiating

You have to negotiate for almost everything in a business, so the better you are at negotiating, the more successful your business will be. You’ll be able to secure better terms for your office’s lease, more reasonable salaries for your most talented employees and even more lucrative options for your top clients. Negotiating effectively is more than just using the right words; it employs timing, a knowledge of the right facts and the ability to remain confident throughout the process.

6. Mediating

Though your role as a mediator will be less often necessary than your role as a converser, for example, there will be times when you have to step up and resolve a conflict. It might be between two employees with differing opinions about whose responsibility something is. Or it might be between two competing vendors who suffered a lapse in communication. In any case, you’ll have to acknowledge both sides and help them work out their own problems.

7. Debating

Debating here doesn’t necessitate arguing. It can be a healthy discussion of two or more alternative options in a productive, respectful setting. Your job in a debate isn’t to win against the enemy — it’s to present your case and opinions clearly. Doing so, whether you’re dealing with investors, partners or employees, can help you elucidate your ideas with greater strength and clarity.

8. Leading

Your responsibilities as a leader are multifaceted, but from a communications perspective, your biggest responsibilities are instilling confidence, trust and passion in your team. You’ll be inspiring people through everyday messages, public and private, and retaining your poise as a leader throughout those situations is key to achieving and maintaining a powerful image.

9. Cross-platforming 

Today’s field of communication is much wider than the fields available to generations past. Phone calls, texts, emails, video chats, instant messages and other mediums are all commonplace, and you’ll need to know which ones are appropriate for which applications. Choosing the right medium and implementing it properly is key.

10. Listening

Listening might be the most important communication skill of all, since it ties into so many applications and situations. Active listening can help you converse, debate, lead, negotiate and mediate, and it makes you seem more thoughtful, empathetic and invested in the people around you.

If you have a reasonable mastery of these 10 critical communication skills, you’ll be in a good position to succeed in your position as entrepreneur. As happens with any other skill, it’s impossible to perfect these abilities without practicing them; you’ll have to practice them actively, honing and fine-tuning your approach along the way. Don’t expect perfection right away; just do the best you can and be aware of how you present yourself, and the rest will come in time.

18
Jan

COMMUNICATION IS LIFE

COMMUNICATION IS LIFE

One’s ability to communicate can spell the difference between success or failure in all aspects of living. You will notice that those people you know who are successful in their endeavors generally have a high ability to communicate; those who are not, do not.

Communication is not just a way of getting along in life, it is the heart of life. It is by thousands of percent the senior factor in understanding life and living it successfully.

We instinctively revere the great artist, painter or musician, and society as a whole looks upon them as not quite ordinary beings. And they are not. But the understanding and skilled use of communication is not only for the artist, it is for anyone.

In examining the whole subject of communication, one is apt to discover, if he takes a penetrating look, that there are very few people around him who are actually communicating, but that there are a lot of people who think they are communicating who are not.

The apparency sometimes is that it is better not to communicate than to communicate, but that is never really the case. Communication is the solvent for any human problem. An understanding of communication itself was not available before Scientology.

A thorough knowledge of the communication formula and an understanding of how any difficulties in its application can be recognized and corrected are vital tools to successful living. The knowledge and drills contained in this course will start one on the road to success. A professional level of skill can be attained in Scientology churches on the Hubbard Professional TR Course. Here, expert supervision and complete data on the subject are available to those wishing to perfect their ability to communicate.

Communication is life.

Without it we are dead to all.

To the degree we can communicate, we are alive.

18
Jan

Can We Talk?”

 

Can We Talk?”

How do Relocation Partnerships Work Best?

There are many ways to view the subject of Communication, but in essence it is a human need.  In business, we have evolved the topic into an art form, worthy of its very own MBA but despite all the methodology and mythology surrounding effective communication, is it really that complex, or is it common sense?  When we meet with a potential supplier, we are driven by two prime needs; to know that we will work well together and to know that the price and quality are right.  Where we are purchasing a commodity, the need to know that we will work well with the supplier becomes less important as what will really drive the transaction is cost and quality.  But in relocation knowing the supplier and the client will work well together is key and good communication between them plays a huge part in the success of the management of the assignment.  For this article I have interviewed relocation suppliers, procurers and global mobility managers and have found that across the board, good communication and collaboration is the number one priority in constantly getting it right.
Helmut Berg is the CEO of RSB Deutschland, one of the largest Destination Service Providers (DSP’s) in Germany.  For over 20 years RSB has promoted a philosophy of success and communication going hand in hand;
“The provision of relocation services is one of the best examples of a people business.  We don’t produce a commodity, we manage the greatest resources of our corporate clients; their globally mobile employees.   Because of the value of this resource and the complexity of the services being delivered, communication and collaboration are the key elements in achieving the goals of our clients; a smooth transition for the employee and family.”
Elaine Crowe is the Relocation Manager for the Rank Group, a European gaming and leisure group with brands such as Grosvenor Casinos and Top Rank España.  Elaine is also the Chair of the UK Relocation Users Group, a body set up with the aim of creating a forum for Relocation HR Managers to communicate and benchmark.  Elaine trains relocation suppliers across Europe in how to best deliver those core components that maintain the relationship between HR and the relocation provider;
“Honest communication is a vital ingredient in creating a long lasting professional relationship.  It should allow each partner to meet expectations and together obtain a united framework for every move, regardless of the different relocation requirements.  There are often lots of buzz words to describe basics, but as always they remain the same; conscientious, caring, co-operation, clear and concise communication.”
Communication is central to the maintenance of a great relationship between HR and provider, but also in supply chain management.  In many geographical locations and industry sectors, the supply chain is more complex, as a Global Relocation Management Company (GRMC) will be the primary account holder for the corporate client’s relocation needs.  TEAM relocations act as a GRMC for many global multi-nationals and Jacqueline Biersma is a Board Director and one of four Relocation Directors.  For Jacqueline, open and clear communication with the relocation providers who make up her global supply network is more than just a friendly phone call.  It is also about maintaining absolute compliance to industry rules and needs;
“Communication and relationship management with our global clients is not just central to our work, it is absolutely key.  Every industry sector has different needs.  At TEAM we are very involved with oil and gas and adherence by us and our vendor chain to the strict rules on for instance, data-protection and health and safety is vital.  We bring together our relocation partners from all over the world, at regular intervals throughout the year, to ensure that they are in compliance with our rules and those of our global clients.  Events such as the EuRA International Relocation Congress and the WERC Global Mobility Symposium are how we are able to achieve the essential face to face communication, training and relationship management that we need to maintain with our relocation partners.”
When Jacqueline chooses the vendors that she will work with to provide a seamless global service to her corporate clients, there are more factors to take into account than just how good they are at communicating;
“Culture also plays a big role; our suppliers in Europe and the USA are already following local compliance rules on corruption and safety, but in other territories, where rules are not so strict, we need to be sure that we are training and communicating with our suppliers even more frequently.   It is not difficult to see global trends that will affect the nature of the work we do; just watch the news and you can see what issues will be facing our clients.  We work proactively with our global clients, constantly feeding back to them what we are doing to maintain excellence in every part of our supply chain. We are working with people after all.”
Communication is vital to this partnership process.  The corporate world really caught on to the importance of structured communication and collaboration from the changes in management techniques that were implemented across the USA in the 1970’ and 80’s.  Today, the value of relationship building through communication in US business is a prime factor governing success.  Peggy Love is the President of Education Services at Dwellworks, the largest destination services provider in the USA;
“We work within the GRMC supply chain and with our own corporate clients and in either case, it is vital for me to work as a partner with my client.  In building a relationship with a client that will truly endure, having a mutual understanding of each of our needs founded on clear communication and a spirit of collaboration, is the bedrock upon which a great working synergy can be established.”
The partnership process itself however, changes in nature according to the type of supply chain and the partners involved and this alters the nature of the relationship and type of communication flowing between supply partners.  Ileana Clapham of Clapham GmbH in Frankfurt also works with both direct corporate clients and GRMC’s;
“When we established Clapham Relocation, we quickly realised that our success was boosted by great, clear partnership and communication and working together as partners with our clients with one common goal of supporting the expats.  When working with our direct corporate clients, one of the benefits is the clear communication with HR and how they use as a resource to inform and improve their practice.  This is one of the key differences when working as part of complex supply chain; we are not invited to work in partnership, we are very clearly regarded as a supplier.  This means that much of our expertise is untapped.  We are a resource to be used and when clear communication exists within a partnership, that is when we can really give what we are best at.”
Germany, like the UK, is an example of how fast and how completely the outsourcing model took hold across the corporate world.  In relocation, Germany is one of the strongest advocates of the GRMC supply chain model.  In most cases, structural and systemic decisions about the nature of the service will be determined at senior management level and this makes clear communication within and between both organizations critical.  Helmut Berg again;
“Trust, openness and reliability are crucial virtues in any relocation company.  The client must be able to trust the supplier, but in return, the supplier must be able to trust the client and in a complex supply chain, this trust must be communicated throughout the organization, Where senior management have the most communication with the client, the best relationships are those where everyone in the supplier company is aware of the business culture, expectations and transferee needs of the client.  Constructive cooperation between customer and service provider is the basis for the highest level of care of the transferee.”
There are distinct corporate cultures in relocation which affect the service delivery models.  The Nordic region is unusual in European relocation, in that the majority of services are delivered as a result of a direct link between HR and the DSP.  The GRMC supply chain addition isn’t so common.  Åse Löfgren Gunsten is the CEO of Nordic Relocation Group and a partner in Absolute Nordic Relocation;
“Here in Sweden we still find that a majority of our clients want to work directly with the local relocation company instead of approaching a GRMC. Their reasoning has been that the order process and line of communication is short and quick when working directly with us. If a situation arises during a visit, getting a quick answer/decision is just one person, one call away. We have over the years built up some very strong relationships that we are very proud of. A couple of our clients ask us to sit in on meetings relating to new policies, recruitment of new employees, or other such issues.”
Åse is also a founding partner of the Absolute Nordic Relocation network, who, though a partnership agreement with three other companies, offers seamless cover across the Nordic region.  She advocates that communication is about building successful relationships among both partners and clients;
“I firmly believe that partnership-style relationships are necessary for our company in order to grow and compete with others. Today we partner with language and intercultural training centers, moving companies and critically, other relocation companies. The main idea behind this is that the group shares knowledge, marketing strategies and costs, and therefore we are able to offer a wider range of services to our clients. The partnership also creates more business for all in the group. If Nordic has a happy client in Sweden, they will most likely agree to try the services through our partnership in Absolute Nordic Relocation.  Many see us as offering services that are reliable, efficient and of the same high standard in all locations. This of course is also due to the fact that we chose to partner with companies  who have a quality certification, such as the EuRA Quality Seal.”
Communication is not just key in ongoing relationship management.  It is central to the process of getting the account in the first place.  Michele Bar Pereg is now an independent Relocation Consultant, but throughout the last decade built on of Europe’s largest and most successful DSP’s with offices in four countries.  She believes the key to her success was communication;
“For me communication is about networking.  Not necessarily in terms of selling, but being a great networker is key to being a great communicator.  Who are you talking to?  Who are you listening to? Keeping that connection open is vital.  Networking, when done to facilitate communication, shouldn’t be artificial but nor should it be too personal – a business focus is important.  Making that connection with HR by networking with them while still having your business brain in gear, is building strong links for the future of your relationship.  Create networking opportunities to begin and maintain communication at industry conferences like EuRA. “
But for Michele, this didn’t just extend to sales and marketing.  Communication within her own company was complex with managers spread across Europe and in different cultures;
“In my company, internal communication took place across borders and this made it especially important to be clear when important information was given out across the group.  Keeping all of the managers and staff up to date with what a client was doing was vital and we would all add notes to the system on the culture of a corporate client as we perceived it in each country, so that we could better communicate accurately and equally with them.  I went against type in hiring staff who held the same philosophy of communicating with clients as I did.”
Relocation is a human business and communication is a human need.  Although we all see different priorities for communicating, we all share the primary value that communication and partnership is central to every part of our lives.  Clearly here we are looking at business, but maybe the same impetus that promotes communication to create business relationships, friendships, teaching and understanding is prevalent in every aspect of human interaction.  What is interesting to me, is how within the business world we work so hard to promote good communication and to avoid conflict.  If all of the models and methods we use in the business world, could be applied to the wider arenas of ideology and politics, we would live in a very different world.
Dominic Tidey
Operations Manager, European Relocation Association