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How to encourage two way communication with your team

How’s your two way communication with your team?

An issue I hear from many of the leaders and business owners I work with is how they don’t have two way communication with their team. Some of them are just ‘turning up’ for work. They don’t really seem interested in their work. Walking around in a robotic fashion, and just going through the motions until it’s time to go home. At times, they appear de-motivated, lethargic and slightly distant from the rest of the team.

What I also hear is the impact a lack of two way communication has on the organisation / business. It’s simple. De-motivated team members don’t perform at their best. They often don’t deliver what is asked of them so the leaders find themselves re-doing some of their work. So, the leaders find it easier to do the work themselves!

Obviously, this is not an ideal situation in any workplace, so here’s how you can change it.

A lack of two way communication leads to leaving your brain at the gates

I can certainly relate to this scenario; I remember being in jobs where I was totally disengaged from my work. It was as if I’d drive into work, park up and leave my brain at the gate! Then for the whole day, I’d go through an unthinking, robotic processing of whatever work was handed my way.

I know, this seems like a crazy way to behave. But if leaders don’t require their team to think, why should someone bother bringing their brain into work?

So, let’s dig a little deeper and discover how this unproductive behaviour can be linked to your leadership style and a lack of two way communication.

How to encourage two way communication

Think about how you give instructions and advice to your team?

Is it one-way communication? Or is it two-way communication?

If it’s one way, you’ll find it tends to lead to your team purely processing what they’ve been told. And sitting waiting for further instructions.

My challenge is always what can you do as a leader to give your team a voice?

To encourage you to start thinking about how you could turn it around, let’s look at a different way by exploring Myles Downey’s Coaching Spectrum.

The Coaching Spectrum shows ways you might interact with your team. At one end, you have the directive style, sometimes known as ‘push’. This involves instructing, telling and giving people the answers; it might show up as you saying, “I’m the boss; I’m the expert; I know best”.

At the other end is the non-directive style, sometimes known as ‘pull’. In this case, you ask questions, listen, and help people find their own answers. You might say, “I’m curious to hear more; let me clarify what you mean; I’ll give you space to talk and I’ll listen.”

Should you ‘push’ or ‘pull’?

By sticking to ‘push’-style interactions, it can cause your team to just ‘turn up’ and process what they were given. As there’s no need for them to think for themselves. By introducing some ‘pull’ interactions it encourages your team to share their opinions, be heard, and tap into their inner knowledge and resources.

Ultimately, interactions at the ‘pull’ end of the Coaching Spectrum empower team members to take ownership and accountability, leading to them showing up (instead of just turning up), and bringing their brains into work.

There is, however, still a place for ‘push’ interactions, especially in emergency situations, or when working with legislation. The key to success is to be aware of who you are interacting with, and adapt your style depending on the situation.

Adjusting your leadership style to include more ‘pull’ interactions can take your team from just turning up to showing up, and being engaged with their work.

Want to increase the two way communication in your team?

You’ll love my one-to-one, personalised coaching. Support from someone outside your organisation who’ll give you the space you need to speak your mind, listen without judgement, encourage you to open up and listen to your inner self, and look at things from different perspectives.

Remember with leadership, it all starts with you! It’s time to stop and look within yourself. The answers are already in your head, you just need the time and space for them to emerge.

If you can relate to working in an organisation and just turning up for work, there’s also something you can do. Join the Find the Real You online course and start showing up as the real you, doing activities that energise you and achieving results that matter to you.

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