According to a recent Gallup poll on employee engagement: Seventy-one percent of American workers are ‘not engaged’ in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive. This trend remained relatively stable throughout 2011.
It has been no secret for quite sometime that employees are not engaged in the workplace and somewhere amid the low-profile employee grumblings and the chronic clock-watching; employees are not “buying-in” into their business cultures. With an unstable economy, job insecurity, and an aggressively streamlined workforce, where should the blame fall?
This is a good question.
According to various formal and informal studies, communication seems to keep popping up as a top “team cruncher” in business cultures. With poor communication channels, team members are left in the dark, second-guess decisions, and misunderstand directives, which ultimately lead to resentment and poor morale.
So what are some workable solutions to getting the message across succinctly and clearly to reduce misunderstandings and disgruntled workplace issues?
One team facilitation tool is the TIGERS Team Wheel™ exercise. Team leaders can use this team development resource to unwind tense culture problems and communication issues by building higher levels of trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success into their culture dynamic. The facilitation process creates a team environment that recognizes the harmful effects of internal competition and the benefits of improved communication. When implementing the TIGERS Team Wheel as a facilitation tool team leaders can:
- Initiate team improvement discussions through powerful coaching questions
- Develop a customized employee supported process with step by step directives toward achieving goals
- Prompt employee accountability and ownership
- Improve communication and team consensus building
- Initiate progress toward strategic team development plans
- Get to the core of underlying team issues quickly
- Bring teams together with common ground understandings of what makes the team successful and strong
On the downside of failed communication, unresolved team conflict often leads to the most valuable team members asking for a transfer or worse…resigning.
Here are some additional strategies:
Be concise about what you need. Don’t expect teams to guess or fill in the blanks. A clear action plan with systematic directives and attainable goals is the best way to keep projects moving forward.
Teach teams to communicate. This may sound simple, but is key to building your team dynamic. Establish standards of appropriate communication such as when to use email and when to pick up the phone to make personal contact. Set the “tone” to be used in communications as well.
Encourage frequent in-person updates. Regular, succinct updates with goals obtained and action plans are critical in keeping communication lines open and misunderstandings to a minimum.
Communicate well when delegating authority – With today’s highly productive workforce, team members are looking for purpose within their duties and the organization to actively engage in the team dynamic.
Explain why the company does what it does – Discuss the vision and values of the organization. Mentor employees, discuss challenges with doable resolutions, and you will build emotional buy-in.
Define career paths – In a recent article, Christine Comaford, a NY Times best selling author, sites this team member review strategy by Dave Peacock, President of Anheuser-Busch. “Team members know exactly where they stand based on their on-going review process.”
For example, Peacock’s team members are rated 4A to 1B. If you’re a 4A you are such a corporate asset that your boss is obligated to promote you in a year. 4Bs must be promoted within 2 years. 3As need to be tested in a different role before they’re moved up. 3B means you’re in the right job at the right time. 2s are new in a position—it’s too early to judge. 1As are put on a recovery plan; 1Bs need to exit the company. According to Peacock, team members should understand what their next two potential promotions are and what exactly is needed to earn the