Have you ever wondered about the power of communication and the impact it can have your team’s performance?
As a manager, I discovered that communication isn’t just about the words you use. It is about how you communicate whilst ensuring that you and your team remain effective, and resilient and continue to deliver results.
I was fortunate enough to start my career as a management trainee in the NHS. I had access to a mentor for two years and was required to attend leadership and management courses as part of my training.
Even with all the support I had, I still made mistakes as a manager, and as I progressed up the career ladder, I learned many lessons along the way.
Let’s delve into six common communication mistakes that I came across.
Mistake 1: Lack of Clarity in Expectations
Have you ever been assigned a task without a clear understanding of what’s expected of you?
As a new manager, I often assumed that my requests were clear. Experience taught me that what I said and what was understood by the other person were sometimes two different things.
I learned to ask questions and check in with the other person’s understanding. I also ensured that I was approachable and open to questions being asked of me. Unless you check in with the other person there is a potential risk that your message has not been clearly understood.
Clear expectations create certainty, clarity, and more efficient teamwork.
Mistake 2: Ignoring Active Listening
We’ve all experienced those moments when we pour our hearts out, and the other person seems mentally distant.
There were many occasions when my manager was busy gathering papers and preparing for their next meeting whilst I was trying to discuss important issues with them. It often left me feeling unheard and undervalued.
I made sure that with my team, I was fully present and gave the other person my full attention, so they felt respected, appreciated, and seen.
Mistake 3: Neglecting Constructive Feedback
Feedback serves as a roadmap for improvement but often feedback isn’t given constructively, or it is too vague.
I thought it was sufficient to say to a team member that ‘they had done a great job’. No doubt it would have uplifted them in the moment. However, what I soon realised was that they were none the wiser about what they had done well or what they could do differently next time to improve further. As a result, this was a missed learning opportunity.
With specific feedback, individual team members can identify and address any blind spots enhancing both their growth and their ability to contribute even more effectively.
Mistake 4: Overlooking Emotions
As a manager I discovered that some team members wore their hearts on their sleeves, and they were comfortable talking about how they felt. Other team members were more guarded and avoided talking about their emotions.
How we think, behave, and feel are inextricably linked. Not acknowledging, exploring, or discussing emotions can lead to unresolved tensions. Conflict may manifest within the team or within the individual if emotions are suppressed.
Ignoring emotions can erode personal resilience by diminishing trust and psychological safety.
As a manager I found learning about emotional intelligence helped me the most in terms of understanding and managing my own emotions and those of my team members.
Mistake 5: Micromanaging
Micromanagement is cited as one of the main causes of stress in organisations. Constantly questioning decisions, scrutinising all the work of team members, and requesting updates on task completion can be demoralising.
As managers, it is important to build trust. If this doesn’t happen team members will feel undermined and harassed.
Avoiding micromanagement will demonstrate your trust and confidence in your team’s abilities. As a manager, it wasn’t always easy to let go of the need to be in control all the time. However, learning to delegate effectively allowed me to do this with more confidence.
As a result, often I found team members contributed with greater discretionary effort.
Mistake 6: Disregarding Individuality
We’re all unique, with distinct strengths and quirks. We all have our preferences for how we get things done. Even though someone works differently from you, it doesn’t necessarily make them ineffective.
I found that it was important to get to know individual members of the team to nurture relationships. By simply taking the time to ask how they spent their weekend or having lunch together provided opportunities to talk about other interests. This way I got to know my team and discover hidden gifts and talents that benefited our working relationship.
When it comes to communication, we can all make mistakes. I certainly did in the beginning. Whether you are a new or a seasoned manager, I believe effective communication is a key component to developing a high-performing, healthy, and happy team.
By avoiding these common mistakes, I believe you can create teams that flourish. As a result, you will nurture relationships that further enhance team resilience and performance.
This blog has been written by our guest Daksha Patel a.k.a. Resilience Jedi. She is passionate about working with Managers to enable them to tap into the ‘Force of Resilience’. Daksha has worked as a senior manager in the NHS and Local Authorities for nearly 20 years.
She now works with managers on a one-to-one basis as a coach and delivers Stress and Resilience workshops to managers and their teams. Find out more about Daksha Patel by connecting with her on LinkedIn. You may also visit her website at www.your-mind-at-work.com.