Have you ever found yourself saying this about your staff? Paul Gordon, HR Director at People Puzzles, looks at how to improve communication channels with colleagues.
Take a step back
If you’re saying the same thing over and over, you’re on a treadmill. If nothing is changing then you need to get off that treadmill for a moment and ask yourself: ‘Why is this not working?’
Evaluate what you’re saying
There’s obviously something not right. Is it you or is it them? You might have to admit you are part of the problem – and even if you’re not, it’s important to rule it out! So the first thing to do is to look at what you’re actually saying and ask yourself: Does it make sense? Is it clear?
Check that your message is understood
Your message might make sense to you, but do your team members actually understand what you want? You may need to actually sit down with your team and ask: ‘Are you clear about this?’
Outline the benefits
You might have explained what you want but haven’t explained why. What is your vision for this, what is the purpose? Once people understand the reason for doing something they’re more likely to respond. Point out the benefits of doing the thing you want them to do. Show what they might get from it. Make sure they know it’s not just a whim of yours.
Listen to feedback
Active listening is about listening to somebody and articulating it back to them. For example: ‘So, you don’t think this is feasible because of X’. They may have a valid point, but may not have raised it before because they didn’t feel they could, or maybe didn’t think you’d listen if they did.
There are all sorts of things that can come out at this stage. It could be that they feel conflicted because they’re in a customer-facing role and you want to change something that makes something harder for customers. It could be that you’re sending conflicting or mixed messages.
By having a say, they will feel involved and engaged. Even if you decide to go your way anyway, at least you’ve acknowledged their point of view.
‘Will’ or ‘skill’ issue?
If you are convinced that you’ve got your message across, it’s understood, you’ve put time lines on it, outlined the criteria, etc, and STILL nothing happens, you then have to ask, is this a ‘will’ issue or a ‘skill’ issue? If it’s the latter then you have to give them the skills because it might be that ‘I don’t know how’ was the issue all along.
If all else fails…
If it’s a ‘will’ issue, then it’s behavioural and the choice is theirs. You’ve explained what you want, outlined why and given them the necessary skills. Now it’s up to them whether they do it – or go down another route that could be disciplinary. But this should be the last resort; you’ll have gone through the above process first.
There are consequences if you don’t act at this stage; other staff members will be watching and whatever you do will send a strong message to them. If you want performance to go upwards you need to tackle poor performance, if that’s the issue.
However, if it’s not poor performance, it’s likely that the problem has been with communication. By following the above stages, you will at least have done all you can to facilitate communication, increased staff engagement and perhaps more importantly, you have stopped, at least temporarily, repeating yourself.
Paul Gordon, HR Director
If you would like to further discuss how HR can help improve communication channels with colleagues in your business please drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.