Collaborative Working: Varied Communication Styles For Better Teamwork

Collaborative working communication chameleon

Agile and collaborative working: it’s easier said than done. 

Yes, we might all be working towards the same goal. But people are complex. We’re all affected by our own genetics, learned behaviours, past experiences, generational culture and personal philosophies. So leading teams effectively can actually be quite challenging.

Often, business leaders and managers fall into categories based on their particular communication and leadership style; the big picture vs. the detail-focused manager, for example. So it falls to each individual team member to decipher their manager’s meaning and learn how to give them exactly what they want.

But this week, I want to put the shoe on the other foot and look at why it’s important for leaders to understand their reports and use a flexible communication style to engage with them.

Why collaborative working requires a flexible communication style

It’s in the business’ best interest to have a leadership team that understands the people working for them. By understanding who they are and how to get through to them, you can get the best out of them, which makes everybody happier and the bottom line healthier. 

As leaders, it’s our role to be able to communicate, motivate and inspire action from different people in our team. Since each team member has different personality and communication styles, being more aware of their personality types and how they like to communicate can be instrumental in building an effective, high performing team. If you want each member actively contributing to results and actions, then teamwork is a must.

In addition to how you communicate, you can also foster and encourage your team members to understand how each other likes to communicate. This promotes better cross-communication in your team and more effective collaborative working, as well as between you and each member. 

This approach allows for better team collaboration, connection and critical thinking from each member – allowing you all to drive and thrive through change. 

Plus, with so much written communication in today’s workplace – think Slack, email, intewrnal chat systems etc – it’s important to understand what is often lost in translation. Reading a plain text message only tells part of the story. Studies show that 53% of our meaning is conveyed in our facial expression, while 38% is through our tone of voice, and only 7% from the actual words. 

So, perhaps there is a place for emojis in the workplace after all?!

“Foster and encourage your team members to understand how each other likes to communicate”

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3 team communication tips for better collaboration

1. Understand who is introverted and who is extroverted in your workforce

Working collaboratively begins with understanding your team members. Most of the time, it’s pretty clear who’s an introvert and who’s more of an extrovert. That said, some introverts are not immediately identifiable because they have learned to present a more extroverted front at work. However, this is likely to be taking a huge toll on their energy levels. 

An effective way to find out the preferences of each of your colleagues is to ask them. Encourage frank and open discussions with people as individuals and as a team. Ask team members what they would like their workday to look like, how many meetings, how much private work time, in what circumstances are they their most productive, how do they recharge, etc?

2. Try out different personality traits to see what works

When communication styles are too misaligned, misunderstandings, errors, wasted time and money are often the result. On the other hand, when styles mesh, you’ll find that your team can have much more influence and be more persuasive. All it really takes is for you to understand your audience and then try out some different styles that align with their personality traits. It’s all about adapting your communication skills.

If you’re an introvert yourself, it might be worth exploring the application of some extroverted qualities to your communication style to see if it better connects with members of your team. But it’s not necessarily all about introversion vs. extroversion. Some people are extremely analytical, which is reflected in their communication, while others are more intuitive. Some are really personal in their interactions, while others are purely functional. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

3. Allow flexibility and personal preferences in work practices

Once you have a good understanding of the different personality traits and communication styles within your workforce, you need to create an environment that allows each team member to flourish. If totally flexible working isn’t an option your business can explore, consider what processes and small design changes can be put in place to make work-life better for every employee.

For example, open plan offices might need some private work areas built in, so that introverted colleagues or staff members who are easily distracted, can seek solitude to become more productive. Another example might be to include optional brainstorming sessions for team members that become more energised and creative when they can bounce ideas off other people.

The personality traits, communication styles and potential working solutions are different in every workforce. So why not allow The Colin James Method® to produce a completely tailored corporate communication training program for you. If you want to find out more about how you develop and elevate your teams comms skills to be more effective you can find out more here.

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Tim Chilvers

Having led a range of businesses in both small and complex teams, Tim enjoys working with people and organisations determined to realise their potential – those prepared to act decisively and with the conviction required to bring that potential to life.