Communicating with your team – you might have noticed throughout your career – is both very essential and very difficult to get right. It’s much more than telling people what to do and follow procedures because you have to be able to inspire and connect. Especially since work today is becoming more and more remote and digital, communication becomes even more a means of keeping everybody connected.
Share the context
A big part of communicating the right way is to provide people with context and enable them to identify their task in the “big picture”. A lot of times lack of motivation comes from a disconnection to the strategic vision of management – largely because management doesn’t share it properly. People want to be empowered and heard, they want to feel like their opinion matters and they actually make a difference. Man’s search for meaning can never be underestimated.
So if management doesn’t provide the context for each individual job, it’s hard to keep people engaged. That means that this kind of communication actually needs to be an integral part of the leadership practice and a big part of actual work. This kind of communication doesn’t just happen. It needs to be planned, integrated into strategic management and executed in a number of different formats – be it regular face-to-face conversations, internal communication media or weekly roundtables.
Take a good look at company culture
Usually hierarchy has a lot to do with functioning (and non-functioning) communication. That doesn’t mean less hierarchy stands for better communication. It’s more about how hierarchy is organized communication-wise. Horizontal structures usually make for less barriers in the middle, whereas vertical structures tend to keep information, development and feedback stuck on one level.
You also really need to look at the actual touchpoints for your employees to give feedback themselves and be heard. Is there a culture of encouragement to speak or do people really just want to go on with their day? A little self-criticism is not wrong at this point. Really look at what makes people take part – and what doesn’t.