Last week we talked about whether each of us is REALLY open for business and I promised that we’d be having a look at each step of the 5-Step Process to Building a Powerhouse Team – the first step being Communication. These 5 steps are the process that must be followed to take a band of individuals and knit them together into a team that can take themselves and your business to new heights. It’s not an easy process and doesn’t happen overnight. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted and isn’t something you’ll accomplish in a box-ticking 2-day workshop. But if you’re a leader who’s willing to go the distance and take your team along for the journey – then it’s worth understanding why each of these steps is indispensable and how each leads on to the next. Let’s get started:
Communication – the cliche and the non-negotiable
Communicate, communicate, communicate! We’ve all been told this is the secret to success whether at home or at work – and we’ve all survived just fine so far, right? George Bernard Shaw said “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”, and Nat Turner said “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”. You don’t even need another human being to communicate – sometimes the communications we have with ourselves are the source of all our issues!
The bottom line is that Communication is a non-negotiable. You will communicate something, even when you are silent. So what we communicate and how we communicate it is the beginning of every move we make. Thankfully, communication is a skill – a muscle we can grow. Let’s have a look at a few of the what’s and how’s.
WHAT we communicate
WHAT we communicate is the root of every interaction we have with another human being. We communicate our needs, wants, and intentions, and we expect the other person or people to understand and act accordingly. The problem is that we expect simplicity of a complex human skill. A skill that many of our team members may be at different stages of honing. Here are a few things it’s worth intentionally communicating:
The Plan, the whole plan, and nothing but the plan
We often expect people in our team to work towards a common goal, sometimes over a long period of time. We expect them to be on track, engaged and inspired – and yet we seldom give them a clear picture of the plan in the first place. Granted, the intricacies discussed in the board room may not be for general consumption, but what you’re aiming at is to give people a full enough version that they’ll gain security in where they’re aiming at and be able to navigate themselves through the twists and turns to get there without having to ask for help and clarification every 5 seconds.
When was the last time you clarified the Vision for your business – the inspiring and slightly grandiose dream of where you’d like to take it and what you’d like to accomplish? If you’ve never done this, how can you expect your team to be inspired and directionful. If you haven’t updated it, or connected your team to it, how can you have any expectation that they will direct their energy towards it or understand their part in it?
Do you have clear and strategic 5-year, 3-year and annual goals for your business and does everyone understand their part in achieving these goals?
Why we’re doing what we’re doing
Why we’re doing what we’re doing is two-fold. It communicates the reasoning behind what we’re doing, and details who we need to be to get there. That we are all motivated by our own individual value systems is an indisputable fact. When we communicate why we’re doing what we’re doing, we allow other people to see how their value systems overlap with ours – and they buy-in. We allow them to cover a basic human need – to belong to a community. When we discuss who we need to be or become in order to achieve these goals, we challenge each other to GROW in ways that benefit us and our business – thus covering another basic human need.
Revisiting, solidifying and living your Mission (why you’re doing it and who you need to be to accomplish it) with your team allows everyone to communicate their own part in it and is an incredibly satisfying exercise for everyone involved.
The rules we live by (as a team)
As mentioned, we all operate by our own individual value systems. What gets you off the couch on a Saturday afternoon may not appeal to the next person. Most of us give little thought to what our highest values are – considering they literally govern every decision we make. Our value systems not only govern what we do, but how we do it – and this is what team culture is made up of. Team culture is another non-negotiable. You will display a culture, intentional or otherwise, positive or negative. When we discuss why we’re doing what we’re doing and who we intend to be to accomplish those goals, we open up discussions about who we agree to be to each other in the process. We establish the rules our team will operate by – how we will respect each other and what other things we need in order for us to get along. This is as true at home as it is in the office and is a truly worthy discussion.
HOW we communicate
How we communicate is the second layer of intricacy that often snags us up. We all know the basics such as “watch your tone”, but how do we truly elevate our understanding and skill levels? After all, communicating with human beings can become an incredibly complex minefield, right?
Yes, human dynamics can be complex – and yet navigating them is the secret that sets apart those teams that feel like they’re wading through molasses, from those who work together with ease and have excess energy to drive forward.
Human dynamics and communication skills are the subjects of books, not newsletters…..but here’s where I have some great news for you. Aviation is very clear on navigating human dynamics using communication skills that make us effective and bring clarity. We have to be. Else bad things happen. Expensive things.
Taking some of the skills we use in aviation, I’ve built a course for teams that not only includes a number of these vital skills, but also covers the basics of the “whats” and “hows” above. A course that adds humour, energy and subject matter to a journey which can be very difficult to initiate from within your own team. I’ve called it Upping The Energy and it’s a 7 week course that allows you to fit it in when it suits your team to get together. I’ll be sharing more with you about this course, and you can also email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out.
Here are what a couple of the leaders who’ve experienced our content had to say:
by Christen Killick
August 20th 2018