Friday, 30 July 2010

Communication for Inspiration : Give your team Obama skills

Yesterday I read the following irritated tweet from an editor at one of the national newspapers.

‘My desk phone is broken. IT man has taken it away. And a replacement? "Oh, we haven't got any". Marvellous.’

The cause of the frustration humming through this little tweet, isn’t I don’t believe, the lack of a phone. The quotation marks speak volumes. The frustration has come from the way this impediment to his working day was communicated. As an afterthought. A fact - unsoftened.

Its not what you said, its how you said it.

This is the case with so many examples of dissatisfaction in the workplace. All kinds of things happen at work, some good, some bad, some challenging. But the thing that people get emotional about - for better or for worse - is the way they’re communicated.

In some cases people don’t see it as part of their job to manage the experience of those working with them. These people won’t be ultimately successful without realising their mistake and changing their minds about this. It will often take a manager to point it out and might require some coaching to find a new way.

Other times, the will is there, but there’s a barrier which stops people from understanding each other. What works in one department is foreign to another. I remember one halleluja of glorious understanding in a meeting between a production team and a design team, when they suddenly realised that they had two different concepts of what the word deadline meant. Genuinely. Once they each understood the pressures on the other team and why they thought about deadlines differently, they worked out some new language that worked for them. Conversations and relationships improved dramatically.

And it can be even harder for those who find themselves in senior leadership positions. Having got to the top of their particular tree they suddenly find themselves on another steep learning curve. They have new pressures to face, new responsibilities and overwhelming claims on their time. Simultaneously they become very visible, everyone listens to what they say, comments on it, judges it. Engaging communication is a big part of their job and if they get their communication style wrong, the impact on employee motivation can be huge.

So what’s to be done? Well over at One Magnolia we had a think about this little problem and took as our muse, the disarming Barack Obama. What would happen we wondered, if Barack Obama were on our leadership team, or indeed manning an IT service desk. We think the answer is that the people around him would be all fired up, full of energy, and that they’d get an awful lot done! As a result of this pleasing fantasy, we’ve developed Communication for Inspiration. A training course that takes the example of the greatest communicators of our time and makes their brilliance accessible for use by business leaders and managers.

The point isn’t to turn everyone into Barack Obama and Richard Branson of course. It’s to help leaders and managers find their own superpowers when it comes to engaging their staff. We give them the tools and make them easy to use.

The course finishes with a brainstorm on the ways for leaders to create a communication culture throughout their company. One person inspiring others through their communication is great, but a whole company doing it, the whole time, is better.

Call us on 07921 484 385, or email to get course details of Communication for Inspiration : Give your team Obama skills.