One very important thing some leaders fail to realize is that communication is the glue that holds teams together. Too often managers get so caught up in administrative tasks, reports and other duties that they tend to ignore their team. As a result, team members feel left out and ignored, perhaps even unimportant.
And, while that same manager can send a million emails, text messages, Slack messages, and every other form of communication available using today’s digital technology, their team can still feel left out and disconnected, regardless of how many messages are sent.
Because being a team leader takes a personal connection — and that takes human interaction. But today’s technology-driven world has evolved to where there is much less face-to-face interaction. The fact is that most real communication that really gets through to people involves tone of voice and body language. In fact, only approximately 7 percent of communication happens via actual words. The other 93 percent occurs through visual and auditory means. Think about how easy it is to misunderstand an email or text. How many times have you reacted to these written messages in a way that was not intended by the sender, simply because you misunderstood the meaning behind the message?
And please do not interpret that this need to communicate gives you license to be overbearing with your management style. As a leader, there is a difference between guidance and micro-managing. Guidance requires more listening and less talking. As a leader, it’s always better to listen. I advise that you let employees do most of the talking and managers should do most of the listening. Too often the opposite occurs because the manager feels the need to impart wisdom and skills, so they don’t spend enough time listening. This prevents an employee or teammate from growing. When managers fail to listen and become micro-managers, it usually means that they have no confidence in themselves, their team, or both. They try to do everything themselves. This is a recipe for disaster.
Another tip to consider: When studying reports, managers shouldn’t get caught in the trap of paralysis by analysis. Managers often spend so much time looking at reports, studying what HAS happened, that they completely miss what’s happening NOW and what COULD happen.
And the next important thing is a personal touch. Leaders need to know their teams intimately. Make an effort to know them on a personal level – their families, wife and kid’s names and what’s important to them. Never expect to get something that you are unwilling to share yourself. If you use that as a gauge, you’ll always have a team that is in-touch, along with a great company culture, because everyone will be on the same page, feel valued and will be working towards the same goals.
Managers would also be wise to ensure that all employees understand the goals. And don’t just assume that they do because some other manager perhaps told you that the employees do understand — confirm for yourself. Asking questions is a normal part of life and a healthy, natural and good component of being a manager or an employee. Through consistent communication, managers are better able to gain and retain information in order to build on that relationship with their team.
Don’t get me wrong; building relationships with your team takes work. But in the end, it will pay off. The key is to not just rely of your thoughts or other employee’s opinions. Always solicit feedback from different people. Get different viewpoints, as they are always varied based on who you are talking to.
Take the time to get to know your team, communicate with them consistently and effectively and make them feel valued by showing them that you care about who they are both as an employee and on a personal level. This goes a long way towards increasing loyalty, engagement and, ultimately, productivity.
Author: Bill Wittenmeyer
Bill Wittenmeyer has over more than 20 years of experience in the automotive space and currently manages multiple divisions within his organization including sales, marketing, OEM relationships and large-client accounts. He speaks at several prominent automotive forums each year. Before joining ELEAD1ONE, he spent several years in dealership operations management.