Poor communication is one of the biggest annoyances in the job – and also one of the most frequent reasons for dismissal. Communication hierarchies from top to bottom frustrate good employees, a lack of information and communicative participation are considered bad management organizations today. Anyone who does not communicate respectfully and valuably and does not sufficiently motivate his employees will be losing out to his specialists. Boris Kasper shows for ManaJump what characterizes good communication, how it supports all those involved and how it keeps valuable employees in the long term. The psychologist and mediator is an expert in conflict and change management as well as in emotional skills in the work environment.
Correct communication means: clear and target-oriented information
Regular responsiveness avoids overtime and mistakes
The announcement “I need this and that until then and then” seems to be a clearly comprehensible work assignment for many managers – but it is not particularly true for complex tasks with several possible solutions. Rather, the question “Why and to which ( far-reaching ) goal l is something needed” is often essential in order to be able to estimate the necessary steps, means and results. If an employee cannot do this, it is in the end almost a matter of luck whether he fulfills the task correctly. The solution: The manager must devote time to a briefing about sense and goal and be available for immediate questions.
Since many projects can no longer simply be worked on according to the proven procedure, it is often necessary to first decide on the most efficient approach. Anyone who sets this decision in advance from top to bottom misses the chance of finding a better way and obviously does not trust in the team’s competencies. Better: To agree on a time window in the briefing in which the best way can be found – and then to coordinate this in a new short meeting.
Constant control puts employees under unnecessary pressure and is no longer appropriate in Leadership 4.0, instead managers should be able to rely on abilities and best results. However, this is not always possible for team members who have yet to develop their skills. A simple solution: set deadlines for the presentation of intermediate steps and results – and only then intervene to improve the situation if necessary.
New organization, different communication: without hierarchy and for everyone
In the past, the organization based on the division of labour was often the ideal way to efficiently handle complicated tasks: The task was divided cooperatively into several parts, which different teams could solve hierarchically structured and almost unconnected with each other. Today, however, many tasks are not only complicated, but also complex. The way to their solution is (still) unknown and sometimes at the beginning of a project even the goal is not quite concrete. Such tasks then often have to be solved across technical and departmental boundaries. Of course, this also changes the form of cooperation and the demand for “right communication”.
Instead of just cooperation, in which homogeneous expert groups are responsible for their results, collaboration often makes sense today: In a participative process, heterogeneous groups work together on the big picture: In these groups, experts with different skills are integrated at the same eye level, who constantly influence each other and are collectively responsible for the overall result – this is how really new things can emerge. Another substantial advantage is that basic information does not remain in individual departments, but is available to all participating experts at all times. At the same time, it is not just a few heads of department who communicate downwards, but a veritable exchange of information between equivalent managers is encouraged.
Expert Insight: The Scrum Method
As a Scrum master, Boris Kasper recommends the Scrum method for collaborative project management: Scrum is a disciplined teamwork in which fairness, fair work sharing and a positive error culture are the basis for success. Flat hierarchies and close cooperation are encouraged, because Scrum focuses on people and their abilities – not on process steps or techniques. The approach comes from the software development and is based on three pillars:
Transparency: Progress and obstacles of a project are recorded regularly and visibly for all.
Review: Project results and functionalities are regularly delivered and evaluated.
Adaptation: Requirements, plans and procedures are not defined once and for all, but are adapted continuously and in detail.
Correct communication means: remaining respectful and humane
Communication style: expressing appreciation and respect
A friendly working atmosphere is an important criteria for working for a company – especially for digital natives, also known as Generation Y. According to a survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute in 2014, young people even want to combine work and private life as much as possible: 57 percent of the 1,200 students, graduates and young job starters surveyed would like to do so. Such a connection is of course only possible with an optimal team atmosphere.
The workplace and teams should therefore be characterised by esteem and respect. Managers must create a superordinate identity, which the individuals want to and are able to join. A no-go is to play employees off against each other verbally – instead, it should always be emphasized what connects them. Such leadership is also called Collective Leadership. Difference is expressed here, but always with an emphasis on the fact that one could not achieve common goals without the other.
An appreciative atmosphere also includes building trust and strengthening contacts. For this the executive needs personality and relationship intelligence, it helps to reveal more of oneself and to show real interest in the other person. In agile teamwork, trust also develops through the constant exchange of information among each other.
Good communication promotes integration into the team
What is important for well-integrated teamwork is a clear understanding of each employee’s role: What is my task, what is my competence needed for – and to whom I am or am not equal. At the same time, however, the similarities are always essential: Goal, mission and understanding.
Goal: If employees only work towards their own goals and these are hardly aligned at all towards a common goal, this hinders cooperation. It needs overall, common goals to which divisions or employees can attach their partial goals – and to which each individual can connect with his or her individual goals.
Mission: It must be clear to everyone what the long-term achievement of the goal is good for. What is the mission behind it, what is to be developed or changed overall? For example, specific software is needed as a project goal to fulfill the mission of keeping the company fit for the future. A comprehensible mission supports the will of everyone to participate in it and to contribute fully. Ideally, this mission is already developed and formulated together.
Understanding: The goal and mission should of course always be known and understood by everyone, but the same also applies to single process steps, requirements and partial goals of necessary tasks. Otherwise, knowledge elites develop that are supposedly superior to others – this hinders solidarity and promotes unnecessary hierarchical structures.