Category Archives: Effective Communication

Effective Communication: Summary of Effective StrategiesPosted on June 30, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

What are some effective communication strategies?

  • Clarify your communication expectations. Clarifying what you and your team expect with communication is the foundation of effective communication.  You cannot meet expectations until you know what they are.
  • Communicate through documentation. Documenting critical conversations is an excellent way to recap important information and to confirm in writing mutual understanding.
  • Follow up and close the loop. Our teams wants us to respond when they have questions or concerns. When your team brings you an issue, be sure to follow up with them and provide closure of the issue.
  • Communicate by listening. Effective communication requires careful listening.  If we don’t listen to our teams, we will miss things or make assumptions, and our response will not be as effective.
  • Clarify your intent. Clarifying the intent of our communication helps to set the tone of what to expect from us and our team’s role.
  • Be aware of nonverbal communication. Nonverbals communicate a message, so be aware of yours and be cognizant of others’ nonverbal cues.
  • Be transparent with your communication. Don’t hold back if possible. Providing your team with straightforward feedback and clear communication about what’s happening helps to build trust.
  • Send regular updates. You can’t always reach everyone on your team on a regular basis. Regular and consistent updates help to provide information to the team and keep them informed.
  • Manage conflict directly. Directly communicate through conflict and your team will be confident you will handle issues and keep them informed of progress.
  • Be persuasive. Share the why behind decisions and next steps.  Seek input and respond to it.  We all must persuade our teams to complete tasks and projects to achieve results for the organization.

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We have discussed many reasons why leaders fail to focus on effective communication. We get busy, we communicate in our own way without considering how others may want to hear it, we make assumptions, we get tired, and that’s just a few of the reasons we don’t communicate as effectively as we should.  Communication struggles tend to be at the core of the majority of team dysfunction.  Failing to communicate effectively is a common issue and one in which we all fall short at times in our careers.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

When we fail to communicate effectively, we risk our teams losing trust in us, we limit our ability to achieve organizational results, and we create extra work by failing to make our expectations and directions clear.  Communicating effectively also helps us to avoid confusion, frustration, and mishaps in the workplace. When our teams can count on us to communicate effectively, it builds trust and they are more likely to follow and support us in our pursuit of organizational results.

How can you do it?                       

  1. Take time to develop a plan. When you have a structured communication plan for your team, you are more likely to follow it.
  2. Execute your communication plan and strategies with consistency. Communicating consistently helps your team know they can count on you and helps to improve the output of your team.
  3. Re-evaluate and modify as needed. When one strategy stops working well, re-evaluate and try something new.  There are always different ways to communicate and to improve, so when one option fails, try, try again.

How do you plan to use these strategies to improve your communication to your team?


Effective Communication: Persuasive CommunicationPosted on June 23, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Many of us don’t even realize we are using persuasive communication.  We think if we tell someone to do something, they will just do it.  We may not think we need to be persuasive or should have to be persuasive with our teams.  But people are selling all of the time. When we begin to explain the why behind the task, the reasons, the purpose, the result we intend to achieve, we are engaging in persuasive communication.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

You cannot lead a team if the team will not follow you.  Building a cohesive team requires ethical persuasion.  If you want real buy in from your team, then you will need to share the compelling case behind the task, change, or process. In order to achieve results, you have to persuade your team that what you are suggesting is the process they should follow.  Achieving results is what actually makes you a leader and that requires honest and effective persuasive communication.

How can you do it?                          

  1. Build a compelling case. Include the facts, the why, the reasons behind the suggestion.  Make sure you are convinced before you attempt to convince others.
  2. Be honest if you are trying to persuade. Tell your team that you are attempting to convince them to follow a process.  Be up front about it. In order to engage in honorable persuasion, you should always inform the people you are trying to convince that you are selling in that moment.
  3. Answer questions and ask for additional input. After making your case, give your team time to ask questions and provide more information.  Since they are your key stakeholders and they are typically closely involved in the process, they may be able to provide information that will help you achieve even better results.

How do you engage in persuasive communication?


Effective Communication: Manage ConflictPosted on June 16, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE & Kendall Stewart, MD

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Conflict happens all the time and most of us don’t enjoy it. Leaders avoid it like the plague. Conflict is uncomfortable. The most common strategy for dealing with conflict in the workplace is to ignore it if possible. If that is not possible, leaders use every excuse they can find to put off dealing with it. When they finally do handle the issue at hand, they usually make several errors and failing to clearly communicate during conflict management is one of those errors.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Communication is a key component of any conflict management process.  Clearly communicating your expectations, the plan or next steps, and seeking input from the team is a critical part of conflict resolution.  Utilize an effective conflict management process that works in your organizational culture. Create a checklist for yourself. When conflict occurs, follow that process. Do not wing it by just doing what feels right at the time. When managing conflict, you cannot trust your feelings. The key to managing conflict successfully is to do the right things in spite of how you feel. 

How can you do it?                        

  1. Communicate with the key stakeholders. Share what has happened right away.
  2. Ask for everyone to provide their statement or any critical information you and the team need to determine next steps. Seek the information you need from key stakeholders to ensure you can make the best decision at that time.
  3. Communicate with the key stakeholders. Once you have next steps or a decision, communicate the plan with the people it impacts.
  4. Document the plan and share it. Then hold the team accountable.

How do you use communication to help manage conflicts?


Effective Communication: Send Regular UpdatesPosted on June 9, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

There are a variety of reasons we fail to regularly update our teams. Depending on the day, the reasons could include that we got busy, lazy, we forgot, we assumed they already knew the information, or we were tired.  These things can happen to all leaders, but failing to communicate important information on a regular basis can limit our leadership effectiveness with our teams.  

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Most of us prefer to know what’s going on at our workplaces and how it impacts us. Our teams are not any different. Keeping our teams informed builds trust and a better team environment. It provides an opportunity for our team members to collaborate with us or to provide valuable input, often resulting in finding a better way. By communicating regularly with our teams, we also decrease the chances of our team members making assumptions or guessing about our intentions.

How can you do it?                        

  1. Find out what works best for you and your team. You can send a weekly email update, a group text update, or utilize a cloud-based communication platform. There are many ways to incorporate regular communication updates to your team and you need to find which option works best for you and the team.
  2. Use simple language and be succinct. This is really important. If you send long updates with intense language, you will lose your team’s interest.  Most of us prefer simple language and brief updates. Thinking in computer and mobile terms, none of us want to keep scrolling and scrolling to read informational updates.
  3. Be consistent. Make sure you have a regularly scheduled update going to your team so they know when they can expect it and that they can count on you to provide crucial information and how it impacts them.  By consistently communicating, you will build even more trust with your team.

How do you regularly update your team?


Effective Communication: Transparency in CommunicationPosted on June 2, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE & Kendall Stewart, MD

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Humans are naturally secretive. We have all heard the saying “knowledge is power” and we all subscribe to that mantra on occasion. Sometimes we want to keep information so we get all the credit if we solve the situation independently. Other times, we are afraid that sharing certain information will upset others so we avoid it until the last minute or until the final decision has been made.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

It’s not wise to embrace the “knowledge is power” mantra for several reasons. First, having more people focusing on solving the problem usually results in more options and a better final decision. Second, when the team is given the opportunity to give input on the decision, the more likely they will be to accept, embrace, and carry out that decision. Your team will value your honesty and straightforward approach creating a positive team environment. Not communicating transparently will damage your credibility as an effective leader and communicator with those you lead.

How can you do it?                          

  1. Clarify how you will make decisions and invite people on both sides of an issue to make their best case. Ask for data and invite opinions and the evidence for those conclusions.
  2. Whenever possible, make all of this information public so all stakeholders can review it.
  3. Make the decision and announce it. Explain your reasoning. Remain open to changing your mind if new information warrants it.

How do you remain transparent in your communication with your team?


Effective Communication: Clarify Your IntentPosted on May 26, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

I say it frequently but being busy often results in us skipping important steps or rushing our communication. We make many decisions throughout our day and our communication strategy becomes another decision point on which we need to focus, and unfortunately, we sometimes don’t. We also assume our audience can read our minds and know what we want without sharing that ahead of time. Effective communication is hard by itself and finding the right channel for the message can be challenging for leaders.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Clarifying the intent of our message is a critical part of the communication process, and if missed, can result in confusion and frustration for your audience. Leaders should clarify with their teams whether they are seeking input, seeking consent, or informing them. This helps your team to develop a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and their role in it.

How can you do it?                        

  1. If seeking input, be clear about what you are asking for as the timeline you’d like to receive that information.
  2. If seeking consent, be sure to outline the next steps and get their agreement to them in writing.
  3. If informing, share the why behind the decision if you can and be clear that the decision has already been made. You are sharing the final decision. If at all possible, giving your team or audience an input period prior to making a final decision will result in better acceptance or adoption of that decision.
  4. Take time to pause and develop a plan. You will thank yourself later for pausing and determining the best strategy to deliver your message effectively to your team, because your results will likely be better.

How do you clarify your intent when sharing information with your team?


Effective Communication: Nonverbals Communicate TooPosted on May 19, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We forget that our nonverbals communicate to our colleagues just as much as our words do. These nonverbal cues can include eye rolls, looking down, a frown, a smile, nod, or good eye contact. When we get busy or tired, we may not have the self-awareness to realize we are giving these cues or getting them from others. There are so many communication strategies and cues that we sometimes go through our days in a blur subconsciously choosing not to use all the tools we have in our toolboxes.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Nonverbal cues help us gauge how a conversation is progressing and manage it appropriately. We can show appreciation or annoyance through our nonverbals, and we can identify these emotions in others based on their nonverbal cues.  Whether we are in a conversation with someone or we are passing them in the hallway, nonverbal cues can provide helpful hints as to how the other person is feeling.  Ensuring that we consciously manage our nonverbal cues is critical so we don’t show our frustration at work and that we do show our appreciation when good things happen at work.

How can you do it? 

  1. Pay attention to the other person. Maintain eye contact and watch for cues that give you insight into how the conversation is going.  
  2. Be self-aware. If something someone says is bothering you, be aware of your facial expressions and manage them appropriately.  Take notes to help distract you.
  3. Use the cues to direct your next steps. If you notice nonverbal cues from others that may help you progress a conversation, use them. You can also ask clarifying questions to help you understand the place from which those cues might be coming.

How do you use nonverbal cues in your communication strategies?


Effective Communication: Communicate by ListeningPosted on May 12, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

There are many reasons we choose to talk more and listen less.  Leaders often think we already know the answers. Sometimes we fall into the trap of only listening until it’s our turn to speak, rather than focusing on the words being said to us.  In this fast paced world with our ever growing task lists, we can allow ourselves to be hurried or dismissive at times.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Active listening helps leaders to avoid miscommunication. Careful listening shows the other person that you care about what they are saying and helps you to develop a stronger teamwork-based relationship.  Listening allows you to ask the right questions.  Leaders who subscribe to the mantra “listen more, talk less” will usually arrive at a better mutual understanding of the topic at hand, which will vastly improve your decision making and your communication.

How can you do it? 

  1. Take careful notes.  Taking notes helps you focus on what the other person is saying.  
  2. Make eye contact and avoid distractions. Avoid your phone, email, and other distractions and make eye contact regularly.  This will demonstrate that you are focused on the conversation.
  3. Listen to the words and tone of the message being shared.  Not only are the words being said important, but the tone in which they are said allows you to gauge a better understanding of where the person stands on the topic.
  4. Repeat back what you’ve heard.  In closing the conversation, highlight what you believe to be the key points of the conversationThis allows for confirmation of understanding from everyone in the room.

What strategies do you utilize to show that you are actively listening?


Effective Communication: Following UpPosted on May 5, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We think we can remember everything people tell us verbally, and we can’t.  For this reason and others, we fail to put an issue on our task list.  Or we may add the issue to our task list, but it isn’t a priority now, so we don’t share the timeline to follow up with our team.  Last, but not least, we may take care of the issue or concern, but don’t inform our team of the resolution. All these reasons happen to the best of us, but damage our leadership credibility.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Following up with your team on issues they bring forward builds your credibility. Your team will know their concerns are important to you and that you will let them know what has happened or why the process may not be able to be changed. Even an unfavorable answer is better received when you take the time to explain the why in a follow up message.  Following up closes the loop, which is critical in leadership, so there isn’t an outstanding item or tension from an issue that was never resolved.  Following up with your team also demonstrates to them the excellent customer service you want them to provide. It sets the tone and example for your team if they know you are going to serve them the way you expect them to serve each other and your customers.   

How can you do it? 

  1. Acknowledge that you can’t remember everything.  Consider a cloud-based task list with an app on your smartphone.  This will allow you to add important tasks on the fly while out and about with your teams. If you utilize a notebook, make sure you transfer tasks to your task list at the end of each day.  
  2. Give yourself time.  Clarify the priority level of this item with your team and give them a reasonable timeline. It’s better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver, so give yourself a little extra time to resolve the issue if needed.  Your team will appreciate you setting an accurate timeline for completion of the task and follow up communication.
  3. Make communication and follow up a task.  Include informing the team of the task or issue resolution as a task item with a due date, or don’t mark the task off your list until you have followed up with the key stakeholders. Doing this will help you to remember how critical it is to follow up with your team.

What are some strategies you utilize to follow up with your team effectively?


Effective Communication: Communication through DocumentationPosted on April 28, 2019

Kara Redoutey, MBA, CMPE

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Taking the time to promptly, accurately, and thoroughly document key conversations requires discipline. We believe we are too busy to spend time documenting conversations we have already had or that it simply creates additional work or an additional step for us to complete.  It can be challenging at times to put conversations in black and white, especially if it was a difficult conversation to conduct in the first place. It can create additional conflict for you if the person involved is not expecting the conversation to be documented and shared.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

The case for documenting key conversations as a tool for additional communication are the following:

  • It protects you and the other people involved in the discussion by outlining the critical details, the timeline, and clear next steps.
  • It is an additional tool to help you communicate and confirm understanding with all parties.  You can even ask another person to document their understanding of the discussion to you if there is concern.
  • It holds you and the other people involved accountable.
  • It can outline tasks for everyone and confirm mutual understanding of next steps with clear timelines for completion.

These are just a few of the positive outcomes from documenting important conversations.

How can you do it? 

  1. Set aside time for important documentation daily.  If you do not set aside time to document key conversations each day, you are not as likely to follow through on this critical task.
  2. Share with the people involved that you will be sending documentation. If you let people know up front that you will be sending documentation of the conversation or meeting notes, they are more prepared to receive it and accept it.
  3. Send the documentation to key stakeholders.  Sending the documentation or meeting notes allows you to confirm mutual understanding of the conversation or tasks agreed upon in the meeting with all parties involved. It also serves as a tool to inform others who may need to know, but were not present to hear the information.
  4. Ask for confirmation of receipt, additional input, and agreement.  Having team members clarify their position and commitment in writing increases their likelihood to follow through and deliver on the commitment.

Do you regularly document conversations as a tool to communicate?


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