Management Skills 202

Adapt Your Communication Styles

As executives become managers and move up the corporate ladder, they assume management responsibilities over more people. More people mean more personalities to deal with each with different viewpoints, agendas and communication styles. Managers have to learn to connect with a greater number of personalities in the most effective manner to get the job done. As a manager, there is a critical need to adapt your communication to different styles.

Without good communication, managers fail no matter how good their intentions

One of the biggest challenges managers at all levels face is communication. Without good communication, managers can fail to gain commitment from employees, fail to achieve business goals and fail to develop a rapport with the people on their team. In short, they can fail as leaders no matter how good their intentions may be.

It is the responsibility of the managers to make efforts to adapt their approach to others, as a means of developing more “people-oriented” supervisory connection. Being adaptable in one’s own behavior offers the greatest potential for optimizing work relationships. Managers can enhance their communication skills with commitment and practice using a few key strategies that will help determine what, when and how to communicate effectively.

In the book, “6 Habits of Highly Effective Bosses” by Stephen E. Kohn and Vincent D. O’Connell, the author put forward a theory that behavior stems from intent and if manager can understand the intent/key motivation behind an individual’s actions, they can route the communication in a more effective manner.

“Managers who identify positive intents in their staff perform an analysis of the fundamental needs that underlie certain workplace communication and behavior. Instead of responding with knee-jerk reactions to certain stimuli, effective managers assess the other person’s positive intent, to try to understand the person’s motives with greater clarity.“

In order to understand the intention behind actions, the manager needs to carefully observe his direct report. What will help is understanding the work orientation of the particular individual. According to Kohn and O’Connell, there are 4 major work orientations with which communication can be varied.

Adapt your communication to different styles- frameworks

  1. TASK ORIENTED: Individuals who are task oriented, their purpose is “to get the work done”. They do not like anything that interferes with task accomplishment and so ineffective meetings or too much deliberation on decisions. They are anxious to reach the final result, and then to move on. When communicating with task-oriented people, it is best to keep your communications concise, decisive, and solution-focused.
  2. PROCESS ORIENTED. Individuals who are process oriented focus on “getting it right”. The minutiae and procedure is what matters with special adherence to impeccable quality. Mistakes are not tolerated and the rulebook needs to be followed. When communicating with process-oriented people, be sure to demonstrate the value of planning, step-by-step processes, and a shared awareness of the importance of quality. Here in opposition to the task-oriented method, the individuals prefer more deliberation and communication in decision-making processes if they result in minimizing mistakes.
  3. COMMUNITY ORIENTED. Individuals who are community oriented place the most value on “getting along”. Bonding is important for this group. It is important for them to have their social needs met. Team-building communication and activities are highly valued by this group. Communication with these individuals has to accentuate finding common interests, sharing ideas and emotions, and building intimacy and trust. To get the best of them, come up with ways to keep the individual from being isolated or involved in solitary assignments. Facilitate group decisions, engaging activities and also show them how they contribute to the larger goal. Engaging in small talk and sharing good-natured humor are as much a part of managing this group as providing specific work direction.
  4. VALIDATION ORIENTED. The sole intent of the validation-oriented individuals is to get appreciation from seniors and peers – “getting noticed and being appreciated”. They are driven by a need to “shine” in the eyes of others. With these people, positive feedback is very useful and motivating towards call to action. Layer criticism with upbeat, positive, reinforcing statements. Rewards, compliments, and consistent reminders of “jobs well done” motivate this person.

The skill of “identifying positive intent” encourages managers to look deeper into what drives particular people in work situations, particularly when the person’s behavior is confusing or out of step with what the manager expected. The logical questions for the boss to consider in analyzing a way to customizing communication strategies for particular individuals are: “What is this employee all about? What is he or she after? What are the objectives or agendas that help to explain this person’s communication and behavior? What needs and priorities drive the person? What does this person seek in interpersonal interactions on the job?

Hopefully, in learning how to adapt your communication to different styles, these prove to be useful pointers!

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