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Addressing the Elephant in the Workplace: Communication

Written by: Colton Radford, Digital Marketing Strategist

How Leverage Talent Enrichment helped Leverage Marketing improve internal communication

It’s safe to say that improving workplace communication is a desire for just about every organization in the world. Especially among larger corporations, workplace communication is vital in ensuring employee engagement and inertia towards growth and success.

The challenge, which was recently made obvious to our marketing team, is that everyone thinks of and approaches workplace communication in very different ways. We are each unique, with a brain that exists nowhere else but inside our own heads.

More communication, less communication, written communication, spoken communication – the ideal method of transferring information is different for everybody.

So, how are we ever supposed to address this communication elephant? No matter the communication policies or guidelines a business puts in place, it seems there are bound to be disagreements and feelings of inefficiency from at least one of the many unique thinkers in your workplace. Can it even be solved, or do we just have to learn to deal with it?

workplace communication
We all think differently, how do we align our communication?

It Starts with Awareness

Although it may be accurate to assume that not everyone in your business is content with internal communication, you have to take the time to measure it. Sound solutions start with data that accurately identifies the problem.

leadership workshops in iowa
Leverage Talent Enrichment creates custom engagement surveys

This is why the Leverage Talent Enrichment team regularly develops, distributes, and reports on key employee engagement indicators such as communication, reward, environment, recognition, and more. Even if communication is a problem in your workplace, custom engagement surveys may shed light on a much larger problem, which should be addressed first.

At Leverage, each employee submits monthly employee engagement surveys designed to gauge levels of engagement and identify areas for improvement. The results of this anonymous survey are then shared in a team meeting and discussed among the group.

Communicating About Communication

Recently, a low-scoring driver for the Leverage Marketing team was communication. This took me by surprise because, in my mind, we are a very close-knit group that has been creating stellar strategic marketing strategies and only bringing the good kind of drama to work.

So, I mentioned to our Campaign Strategist, Marissa, how surprised I was that communication scored low. I wanted to get to the root of this and find a solution that the entire team could rally behind, but had no clue where to start.

Did my coworkers think there was too little communication happening? Too much? Or was it something else entirely?

This confusion is the main problem with communication. Even when you know it’s not going well, it’s not so easy to figure out why it’s not going well. Remember that whole “unique brains” thing I mentioned earlier? That’s what complicates it, but it’s not an unsolvable problem.

Apparently, the answer is to, surprise surprise, communicate about it! Looking back, I realize that’s exactly what I was doing when I brought up my concern to Marissa, and it’s exactly what sparked the individualized support we got from the Leverage Talent Enrichment Team.

team that help with workplace communication
Leverage Talent Enrichment Team

Improving Communication

Marissa took it upon herself to reach out to Ashley, our Sr. Talent Development Strategist and co-leader of Leverage’s Leading Edge Workshops. Marissa communicated the feelings of confusion I had around the survey results, and Ashley listened to the situation thoroughly before equipping her with a customized workplace communication exercise.

At our next marketing team meeting, Marissa gave us all the chance to re-read our individualized MPO communication reports (a personality report that sheds light on how we each like to work in unique and different ways, which is based on a series of questions we answered during our employee onboarding).

MPO Communication Reports

Essentially, these reports measure an employee on a spectrum of cautiousness vs assertiveness as well as self-control vs spontaneity. Each person is then put in one of four communication-style quadrants: Analytical, Authoritative, Cooperative, or Expressive.

Everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum of these communication-style quadrants

The spot on the spectrum that we were placed represents the style of communication that we naturally carry out on a day-to-day basis. The report also gives detailed explanations of our main assets and how others perceive us. It then goes into what motivates us, how we prefer to interact with others, our general decision-making process, and how we deal with change. Lastly, the report gives tips on how to best communicate and relate to the coworkers who were found to have different communication styles.

Back to the Communication Exercise

So, before sharing the results of our individual reports, we each put one another in the communication quadrant that we thought was most accurate based on nothing but our internal assumptions. Then, one by one, we went around and shared which communication style we were, as well as the details and explanations in the report that resonated the most with us.

workplace communication exercise
Learning from our custom communication exercise

By the end of the exercise, we all had a better understanding of how others perceive us and more importantly – how each one of us works and communicates in different ways (even if we all have the same goal). It turns out we have a pretty balanced team, with multiple coworkers in each of the four quadrants. And in case you were wondering, about half of our assumptions about which quadrant people landed in were dead wrong. Now we know.

Species of Elephants

Just like the many different species of elephants in the world, a workplace has many different styles of workers. I would argue that the cause for most workplace communication blunders stems from a lack of awareness or lack of willingness people have when it comes to learning about how others think. The reality is that there is no single solution to improving workplace communication.

There are exactly as many solutions as there are employees in your workplace.

So, if you want to drive real change in the way that you and your coworkers communicate, stop expecting them to sound their trumpet in the same way you do (or to understand your unique trumpeting sound right away). Take the time to identify and embrace the way that your coworkers’ brains work, and your team will sound like a symphony.

Ready to address the elephant in your workplace?

improving communication in workplace

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