Most organizations — and their leaders — will likely agree that continued leadership training and coaching is an asset to shaping strong leaders. How we communicate with others — verbal and nonverbal communication, communications methods and the diverse workforce — affects how communication should be executed.
Misunderstandings can almost always be attributed to lack of or vague and ambiguous communication.
Leaders aim to build strong teams, and in the process often earn their teams’ respect. Employees are loyal and motivated to give their best when they respect their leaders.
As the methods for delivering communications change, along with the rapid transformation of the work environment, leaders have been forced to shift their efforts and their mindset when it comes to keeping their teams connected and informed. The old way of leading teams has drastically shifted because it had to.
Because of these changes, leaders’ communications training also needs to be altered so leaders can strengthen loyalty among their teams while reaching the company’s financial goals.
Why is communications training important for your leaders? We’re going to consider two areas — the remote workforce and the mental and emotional health of employees — where leaders need to reexamine their communications delivery.
According to a Gallup Poll in April, U.S. employees working remotely jumped to 62 percent because of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost as many would like to continue working remotely even if restrictions are lifted and they can return to the workplace or office.
When the pandemic hit and physical offices shut down and moved to the living rooms and kitchens of their employees within a matter of days for some, leaders were moderating meetings virtually. The physical changes were also infused with confusion and fear, and communications were frustrating.
No longer in view of their teams physically, leaders were learning how to lead in this new era of sudden transformation as they went along. Micromanaging reared its unsatisfactory head and everyone was stressed.
The option of remote working will be a mainstay for many businesses moving forward as many workers have settled into this new environment and are enjoying the ride.
But leaders’ way of leading remotely has altered. What are some areas that will help them be successful in leading productive teams?
The downside of working remotely is it can be a lonely place. Communication has to be consistent and frequent so people feel they are still part of a team and their hard work is noticed. The less communication people have, the more isolated they feel. Their imaginations begin to play tricks on them, and morale plummets.
Leaders should be frequently and consistently reaching out to their teams in person. Whether it’s weekly or twice a week via video conferencing, phone calls, or text messages, employees need to know that their leaders know they exist. Emails have their place, but seeing their team leader’s face and hearing his/her voice means more to them than you realize.
Whether leaders have a few or a few hundred employees under their leadership, they need to reach out to them on a personal level. Have one-on-one conversations with each of them. Listen to their concerns and ideas. Offer feedback. Act on their suggestions and fears so their employees know their leader is listening to them.
One-on-one conversations take time. But if a leader’s goal is to be a productive department and team and help the company meet its bottom line, you have to have solid, supportive teams. Employees who feel their leaders do care about them will respect them more and will be more willing to give their best. Leaders will earn their employees’ trust and respect, and productivity will increase.
Reaching out to employees is now a leader’s top priority.
Reaching out to employees is now a leader’s top priority.
To keep employees engaged and motivated, leaders should consider innovative ways to further communication.
Some teams will meet virtually on their own to work “together” on projects or to brainstorm. Leaders should learn how those sessions are going and ask how they can contribute.
Some workplaces offer virtual fun occasions, such as coffee and lunch breaks, “Wellness Wednesday” and virtual team “happy” hours. Casual settings allow people to get to know more about each other and what makes them tick. Learning more about their supervisor will help employees feel more connected as a team.
Leaders can consider brainstorming sessions to get the creative juices flowing. Leaders should ask questions to learn what motivates their employees and what keeps them engaged, and not be afraid to experiment with ideas.
Above all, leaders need to be there for their teams.
Mental and emotional health
The mental and emotional health of employees is something leaders have to be alert to. While leaders aren’t expected to be psychologists, it is important they understand the individual members of their team and what those employees are dealing with.
Even leaders aren’t immune to fear and anxiety, which heightens stress. Leaders need to have “mental health” breaks, too, if they’re going to be effective at leading their teams.
But now, more than ever, it’s important for leaders to work with their employees to be a support during the rough patches. At the same time, they also have to make sure their teams are meeting their goals and contributing to output so the business stays afloat. How can leaders be balanced?
Understanding and empathy
One-on-one conversations are a start in listening to employees, understanding their concerns and circumstances, and working with them to give their current best.
As leaders grow to know them, they’ll understand where they can show proper empathy. What are they dealing with currently that their leader and the rest of the team can work around or be flexible in?
While we all have our bad days, leaders need to understand where they can help. If an employee’s bad days continue for any length of time, he/she may need to get more professional help. Leaders also have to be alert to the effectiveness of their teams’ efforts to know where changes need to be made.
Make sure employees’ skills are properly balanced. Are they in the right role or does your leader need to shift responsibilities according to their strengths? When employees are in the right roles for them, morale and confidence improves and output increases.
Delivery of communication is essential in making sure the message is heard and avoids misunderstanding.
Again, consistency is key.
To prevent frustration among your employees, make sure you and your leaders communicate with them frequently. Leaders should answer employees’ questions to the best of their knowledge and try to find the answer if they don’t know it.
What leaders say is important, especially during volatile times. Fear of job loss or getting sick, safety concerns and personal challenges keep people on edge. The way messages are worded will either make team members calmer and stronger, or cause them to fall apart.
When leaders are stressed, their employees feel that too. So leaders have to keep their body language (during video conferencing) and tone of voice in check when they communicate with them. Even facial expressions are conveyed over the phone (we can tell when someone is smiling), so they need to be mindful of their attitude when speaking with them.
Results of communication
Results cannot always be measured by graphs and statistics. However, your retention level is one indicator of how your communication might be going.
A good leader is defined by the team he or she leads. How is the team’s attitude? Are employees stressed or happy? How are productivity, morale, and work habits?
How are your leaders communicating with their teams and with you? Are you getting clear messages or mixed signals? Are they micromanaging their employees? Are they following policies or fighting them?
To lead your organization into the future, you need strong leaders who can adapt to change and lead loyal teams that will give you their best and increase profits.
Special Note: If you and/or your organization would like leadership training for overseeing remote teams, or training your remote workers be productive, call me for a free 30-minute consultation.