Perfecting the art of transparent communication and collaboration

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One thing that nearly two years in lockdown proved was the key role communication and collaboration play in productivity as well as job satisfaction, organisational success, and employee retention … yes even when most of the world was working remotely. 

For any leader keeping a close eye on holding on to their people, it’s essential that you promote open, positive, transparent communication and collaboration across the whole team whether they are on-site or in a distributed work environment. 

Without wanting to put a dampener on the moment, it’s probably a good time to remind you that people don’t leave companies. They leave leaders. And two of the most common reasons people give for leaving is because they believe they were kept in the dark or weren’t given any clear direction, or they felt that they weren’t given a voice, or they weren’t listened to. Both of these reasons come down to a lack of transparent communication.

Without transparent communication, everything else pretty much falls apart.  

No matter how big or small your team is, as a leader you need to ensure everyone is on the same page. You need to be able to clearly articulate your plan, the vision for the business, and your expectations.

Whether you are talking to your team as a group, or to an individual team member during a weekly 1:1 catch up, you must have clarity around ‘the story’ and the plan ahead. The words you use, how you deliver your message, and the transparency with which you deliver the message will make all the difference to ensuring everyone is on the same page. 

Communicating transparently is all part of creating a climate of trust.  

You will never be accused of over communicating. Tell them everything or tell them nothing at all. Rest assured; nobody will resign from your organisation because they felt you told them too much! The danger in only telling them half the story though, is that they will fill in the gaps and create their own scenario in their head. This perception will quickly become their reality and that’s a downward spiral in the making and will often result in the wrong people exiting the business. 

This means that if you told your team that funding was around the corner and the potential investor pulls out, don’t keep that information from the team assuming they will forget what you told them in the first place. If you tell the team you’re making an offer to an amazing candidate and for whatever reason the candidate turns the job down, bring the team up to speed asap. 

In the majority of teams, too many things are just swept under the carpet on the assumption that people don’t need to know the bad news. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.  

When communicating to your team, or even to the broader business, understand that communicating transparently can often mean speaking from the heart.

Even the most successful leaders are not invincible. It’s OK to reveal your vulnerability. And you know what? Sometimes it’s even OK to ask for help or admit you don’t know the answer to a particular question. Sure, that takes courage, but when your team sees you being courageous, that’s another big tick on the trust board and a win on the transparent communication front. 

Another way to ensure your team members respect you is to ensure they all feel like their voices are being heard.  

Are you actively listening to your employees today? Not just hearing (as in voices talking at you), but listening to, understanding, being present for, and showing that you genuinely care? Active listening and being present and truly engaged for those around you is a skill that doesn’t always come naturally simply because we can be so easily distracted.  

How often have you caught yourself automatically (maybe even consciously) nodding your head or making one of your standard ‘acknowledgement sounds’ when you are fully aware that you have either stopped listening, or perhaps weren’t even listening properly at all in the first place?

Are you guilty of glancing at your phone when having a conversation with one of your team members?

Or, if you are speaking to them on the phone, are you also ‘just quickly’ checking your emails to stay on top of your in-box?  

These brief and seemingly meaningless actions simply reinforce to the team member you are speaking to that you are more interested in what you are looking at than in what they are sharing with you. This is a sure way to lose respect and trust as a leader especially if they assume that their leader isn’t interested in hearing what they have to say.  

Many leaders will also view communication and collaboration as the same concept; however, they are not.

After all, just because your team members are communicating, it certainly doesn’t mean they are collaborating, and a team without true collaboration will quickly become disengaged, which can only impact job satisfaction and retention. 

By encouraging collaboration, you will start to see a more transparent, productive and more engaged team.

Why? Because collaboration will help break down any silos that may have (even unknowingly) developed in the workplace and will also naturally reduce isolation and loneliness, particularly prominent in remote and distributed teams. Some of the best teamwork happens when egos are put aside, and we take onboard our colleagues’ ideas. 

Collaboration will also prevent burnout, which in itself is a key reason employees give for deciding to move on.

By reinforcing the importance of team collaboration, as a leader you will start to see your employees feel more confident and supported and this is clearly a good thing. 

But remember that too many meetings (particularly back-to-back Zoom or Teams meetings) can in fact have an adverse effect resulting in burnout, too.  

You want to strike the right balance of collaboration in your team, so you foster creativity and productivity as opposed to preventing it, leaving your employees disgruntled and waiting politely in the departure lounge until something better comes along. 

Remember hellomonday provides coaching and support to leaders at all levels; prioritising development initiatives that result in long-term sustained learning and change; and reinforcing habits through curated learning and impactful coaching. 

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