Imagine you get a text message from one of your team members. It consists of two characters, a smiley face and a thumbs up. They’ve sent it after you asked them about the state of negotiations with a hotel venue for your next event. And as such, the message would be viewed in a positive light. But not everyone will be delighted with an emoji report. And this is where we need to think about the way we communicate and whether the channels we use are helping or crippling the way team members work together.
We spoke to the CEO of PlusVoucherCode, Andrea Boffo, who believes communication is one of the most important building blocks for managing team members successfully. He shared with us some of his best tips and tricks to help you better connect with team members and achieve the goals you’ve set around your events:
1. Don’t Forget to Smile
Sounds too simple? Smiling is not only good for you, but it’s also an instant way to forge a communication avenue. The people you are talking to will be a lot more relaxed and ready to communicate and cooperate, which is what you want. And you don’t need to be grinning like a madman at all times. But when you say hello to your staff, or enter a meeting room, do so with a smile instead of a nod. A simple acknowledgement will do but make it genuine.
A smile will also help with formulating criticism, believe it or not. Even if someone has made a mistake, you will not achieve much if you make a big fuss. Instead, greet them with a smile, and discuss the situation. Focus on the action and the outcome, and not the person. Focus on how to remedy the mistake and be very specific about what you say. Being overly general with things like “this could have been executed better” will not help anyone do better next time. Rather, offer something like “the event invite could have been designed differently, the language could have been less formal”.
Remember that most people don’t like to be criticised, not even when it comes to minor things. So, don’t allow things to escalate. If someone is upset, don’t keep forcing your point. You are dealing with human emotions, not robots. When delegating tasks, make sure you assign things up based on affinity, skill and talent, whenever possible. There will certainly be times when the best person for a task is busy with other things, but don’t expect everyone to perform at the same level. This is where getting to know your team’s strengths and weaknesses steps in, which will be a huge help in handling feedback and managing tasks.
2. Organise Team Get-Togethers
No matter how well you get to know someone’s performance at work, you can never actually get a real feel of their personality in the office. People will often put on their business personas, which is precisely why you need to organise team building events at regular intervals.
Making sure everyone is involved can often be a challenge in itself. Even if you choose to ask team members for suggestions, they are unlikely going to unanimously agree on one activity. It’s best to take the suggestions on board, choose the activity yourself and stress the importance of attending. Don’t by any means make it mandatory. It’s not a work do, after all. Let everyone know that you would like to get to know them better and how it can improve collaboration between team members. It’s also a great excuse to treat them and incentivise their hard work.
At the get-together, make sure you discourage shop talk as much as you can. While it can never be completely abandoned, you aren’t there to discuss how you can hit registration targets for your next event. The point is to facilitate a relationship between colleagues that will allow that to occur more naturally at the office.
It is also a good idea to reinforce unity at these types of events – so you can choose to hand out matching gear if you’re all doing some type of activity to make them feel more part of the team. There are many discount code sites that can help you find the best deal.
3. Set A Time for Meetings
When back at the office, make sure you establish a weekly meeting schedule and include a general “what’s new with you” sort of catch-up, where everyone can vent about what is going on from their perspective.
It is very important to offer a clear channel for solving issues, and the best is usually to do it by meeting face to face. Always offer the chance of your team coming to talk to you in private if need be. However, if you can manage to create an environment where people can talk about each other’s performance in person, you will be achieving the nigh impossible.
These meetings need to be a safe place where even you can be the “target” – but the point of the conversation is always constructive, not blame. You need to be careful how you lead these meetings – don’t let anyone be interrupted, monitor the use of negative words, and keep reinforcing the positive, forward-moving aspect of these talks.
Finally, never let the meetings be all talk and no walk. Make a list of things that need to be actioned after each one, and make sure they are followed through.
4. Put People First
No matter how dedicated someone may be, we are all human. In order to connect with your team and work well together, you will need to get to know them a bit. As well as team-building events, chatting to your colleagues “by the water cooler” is a great way to get to know more about their family or hobbies. Encourage your team members to talk about themselves in these more natural environments and make it a point to remember what they say.
Having this kind of personal rapport can help you better tackle a problem when it arises. If you know someone’s pet has just died, you can be a bit more caring and careful with that person while they get back on their feet. If half the office is cheering on a particular sports team that has just lost the playoffs, you will be able to understand why they may not be in the best of moods.
The job needs to be done, there is no need to reinforce that. But if you nurture an environment where people are allowed to be at their less than best on certain days, they will be ready to outperform themselves when the time is right. This is a kind of connection that can only be found in the most successful teams.
5. Ask for Feedback
Finally, the best way to connect effectively with team members is to keep getting better and better at it over time. This means asking people for feedback, not just about the way the team itself can be made to work better, but about your own shortcomings. You may have a communication streak you are not even aware of, but which does not sit well with certain types of people. You will never become aware of it if it is not pointed out to you.
This is why your weekly meetings also need to be a space where people can offer their two cents about the things you yourself can do to improve the connection. Don’t take it “personally” and try to adopt all the advice you get and see where that leads. You may want to change things down the line again, but the fact that you are willing to make an effort will speak volumes to people on your team.
Human communication will forever be flawed to an extent. We as individuals will never see the same world from the same perspective, and neither should we. But in order to work well, we need to establish genuine connections with the people surrounding us. Hopefully, these five tips will help you achieve just that.
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