Spring is here, bringing new energy to humans and horses alike! It also opens up a chance to spring clean the cobwebs that may be holding us back and start anew with our workplace relationships.
Hasn’t it been nice to feel spring in the air the past week? In these difficult times, it’s a welcome change. The horses feel it too – mine all have a spring in their step, literally.
In the spirit of spring – which in the animal world represents new life and fresh starts – it’s also a good time to take stock and for leaders, this might mean evaluating our team. Especially considering what is many workplaces a back to physical distancing – a study found half of Australians feel stressed due to pandemic-related changes to their work routine and organisation.
One of the easiest ways to improve how your team functions is to improve your communication. In a team, poor communication leads to unnecessary tension and wasted time.
Here’s a few steps for a spring clean of your team communication.
Step 1: Look at everyone’s communication style
We all have a base of default style of communication – we often learn to adapt this for the workplace but in times of stress (like now!) it’s likely that people will revert more towards their natural style. If someone seems more abrupt in their emails than usual, don’t assume they are angry at you – it may just be a sign of the stress they are under.
In our team and leadership development programs, we use the MiRo assessment for understanding your communication style and that of your colleagues. I’ve recently become a fully certified MiRo practitioner to be able to delve deeper into this fascinating area for our clients. And, it turns out I’m the only certified provider in Australia. Founded in the UK and utilised all around the world, this psychometric assessment is designed to help you and your team perform better and feel happier.
In a nutshell, the standard assessment looks at whether people fall primarily into one of four key communication styles.
Energiser – gregarious, creative, and agreeable
Organiser – interested in wellbeing, stability and helping others
Analyser – detail oriented and look to understand things rationally
Driver – innovative, adventurous, rational and assertive
Of course, there is more to it than that. Everyone has a secondary mode of communication supporting their primary, and we can all access each mode when required. But you get the gist. Being aware of your default style and how it impacts your interactions with others is a great step towards empathy, understanding and harmony within a team.
Step 2: “Strength lies in differences, not similarities”
This quote by author, Stephen R. Covey, says it all. It may seem obvious, but remember we are all different. Different in the way we relate to and communicate with each other – as I’ve written before. To function at our best as a team, we all need to be able to take a step back and remember to how the other person is communicating in a particular situation is part of who they are and what makes them unique. Being open and empathetic towards others creates a greater harmony within your team.
Take my daughter (a driver/organiser) and I (organiser/energiser), for example. We run Willow Wood Stables, the home of Leading Edge, together and at times, our miscommunications lead to frustration with each other. I try to remember her style of communication is a lot more direct than mine and, to be honest, the reason she is the manager around here. She gets things done and our staff respect her clarity, a strength that I greatly admire.
Step 3: Fit the pieces together
I have been using the MiRo assessment in our Leadership Training Programs for years and it is always insightful and of practical value. Many of us have probably done a psychometric test at some point in our career, but this one is specifically for workplaces and speaks to you in plain English.
The real beauty of it is in the way it demonstrates each individual’s communication style and then demonstrates how they work together in a team dynamic.
That’s why one of the programs I am focusing on right now is Teamwork with Horsepower, which uses MiRo in conjunction with all the leadership lessons we’ve learnt running our training for the since Leading Edge started. It begins with the MiRo assessment of individual team and communication styles done online. This is followed up with a workshop or series of workshops designed to highlight team dynamics in the real-time cause and effect situations, which will bring the findings of the online assessments to life. And the best thing is this can either be done in person or in a COVID-safe online simulation – or a combination of both.
Step 4: Use the results
Once you have the results, it’s then about implementing these insights to improve your team communication and efficiency.
We have run the assessment on our own team. Our current team is primarily made up of energisers – we’re agreeable people to be around and have on a team, but together we can have trouble being decisive when something needs to be done. So, we worked on improving this.
We’ve seen all kinds of team dynamics though. We had another team that were all analysers – they were too busy analysing everything rather than taking action and moving forward! Definitely an eye-opener for them and a clear path for improvement.
It’s worth taking the time now for a refresh, so you’ll be in a position to head into the rest of the year with a new start on your team communication.
Want to spring clean your team communication? Try an informative MiRo assessment. I’m running some special discounts for the first people who register from this blog. Comment below with your details or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.