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Dulling the Noise: Skills Leaders Should Employ to Calm the Chaos—Part 2

You don’t have to follow this blog series (but you should!) to grasp the significance of being a strong leader during this time. With the pace of change accelerating daily, managers and leaders not only need to be adept at change facilitation, they must couple that skill with effective communication. As the world navigates the shift to remote work, it’s essential for managers to maintain open lines of communication with employees to understand how they’re doing, articulate what’s going on in the business, and ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction.

Stats on communication

Even if you feel you’re a solid communicator, it looks somewhat different when you’re managing a remote team and leveraging virtual teaming technologies to accomplish work. Consider the following statistics about communication:

In Face-to-Face Situations – Whether in-person or via virtual teaming technologies, body language and tone of voice play critical roles in getting your message across.
• 7% of the message comes from words
• 38% of the message comes from tone of voice
• 55% of the message comes from body language

On the Telephone – When you are not face-to-face with a person, body language cannot play a role in the message sent. However, the tone of voice is incredibly important.
• 13% of what we hear comes from words
• 87% of what we hear comes from tone of voice

Electronic Messages – This is where communication gets especially tricky as email and text messages can be full of emotion, and we, the receiver, infer the tone and context. In the absence of nonverbal cues, our imaginations run wild making assumptions with how to fill in the blanks.

So how do you communicate effectively within a dispersed team?

– Be aware of how you’re communicating via your various communication channels and adjust based on your understanding of how the medium impacts receipt of your message. When it comes to communication, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Everything from the pitch and tone of your voice to your emphasis and enthusiasm convey meaning and importance to the individual on the receiving end.

effective communication
“Effective communicators instinctively know how to ‘match’ the physiology, energy, and voice tone and tempo of the individual that they are speaking with in ways that are natural and congruent.”
~William James
~

– Be conscious of your nonverbal cues and the strong messages they send. When we interact with others, we continuously give and receive countless wordless signals. All of our nonverbal behaviors—the gestures we make, the way we sit, how fast or how loud we talk, how close we stand, how much eye contact we make—are key components of communication. The nonverbal signals you send either produce a sense of interest, trust, and desire for connection—or they generate disinterest, distrust, and confusion.

– Be mindful of the medium by which you’re communicating key messages. Again, sending emails and text messages to communicate leaves the reader open to interpreting your tone and the emotion behind the message. Consider communicating sensitive or timely messages via virtual video technology so your team isn’t left to infer the message behind the message.

– Be an active listener. Active Listening is receiving information from one or more speakers while remaining neutral and acknowledging the speaker(s) in a way that encourages him/her to continue. Good communicators might say we should listen twice as much as we speak.

effective communicaiton

Communication can become complex when you’re managing a remote team let alone when you’re managing in the midst of a state of constant change. Conscious awareness of how you’re communicating is just as important as what you are communicating. Don’t underestimate nonverbal communication as a vital form of communication in a virtual environment. Just as you’re aware of your own body language, be conscious of that of your team(s). This sort of active observance paired with active listening, will clue you in to how your team is really managing through the chaos. Further enhancing your communication skills and tailoring your approach not only makes you a more effective manager, it calms the chaos, connecting you with your team on a deeper level and building trust. Continue following our series on how to dull the noise and the skills to employ in doing so.

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