People Power: Say What?

July 14, 2015
Determining your employees’ communication style will go a long way to getting them to listen

We have all been there — you say something important and some of the employees give you the “fish-eye,” that sort of “say what?” reaction that really ticks you off. There’s a cure for the fish-eye: Effective communications.

We each have a preferred communication style, and because it is our preferred style, we tend to use it most of the time. But there is a problem — we do not all have the same preferred style, and if you do not understand stylistic differences in communications and learn how to adapt your style to the style of others, you may not be speaking on the same wavelength as your employees; thus, they may not “get” what you are saying.

Adapting your style will help employees to understand --- and accept --- what you are trying to convey to them. It is not difficult to get onto your employee’s communications wavelength. The first step is to identify their general characteristics. Since their characteristics are observable, you can avoid getting the fish-eye by determine your employee’s preferred communication style.

Here are some tips that will help you pinpoint different styles. Keep in mind that there are no good or bad styles and that each style has a unique way to deal with problem solving, handling people, accepting change and reacting to rules and procedures set by others. A team that reflects a combination of each style will contribute to an organization’s successful performance. The four general styles are conductors, promoters, supporters and analyzers.

Conductors are competitive, forceful, decisive, strong-willed and results-oriented individuals who have a sense of urgency and are direct. When dealing with a conductor, they will react best to what you are saying if you are clear, specific, brief and to the point. Avoid talking about things that are not relevant to the issue or appear disorganized. These individuals will thrive when you assign them to juicy, high-profile, challenging projects. Their value to the team is that they are innovative, forward-looking, bottom-line organizers who initiate activity.

Promoters are enthusiastic, optimistic, friendly and demonstrative people who are independent and project self-confidence. When communicating with a promoter, do not deal with a lot of details. They like to chit-chat. Be warm and friendly and ask “feeling” questions. You will create tension if you are curt, cold or tight-lipped and do not emphasize facts and figures. These employees will flourish in brainstorming sessions and other creative meetings, and they crave praise. Their value to the team is that they are quick-to-change, creative problem solvers who will motivate others toward goal attainment.

Supporters are patient, reliable, steady, modest and soft spoken people who are good listeners and persistent. Supporters will react favorably if you break the ice with a personal comment and present your message in a non-threatening manner. These individuals will be turned off if you rush headlong into business matters, behave in a demanding way or force them to respond quickly to your objectives. Tell these workers — and tell them often — how much you appreciate them. Build their self-confidence. Their value to the team is that they are dependable, adaptable, methodical and logical thinkers who support team projects.

Analyzers are neat, conservative, careful and perfectionist-type people who are accurate, precise and have a concern for quality. An analyzer will react most favorably if you stick to business, be accurate and realistic and have your “case” prepared in advance. You will get the fish-eye if your approach is casual, informal, loud, unrealistic or disorganized and messy. Acknowledge the excellence of their work but help them to recognize that at some point they should say “good enough” and move on. Their value to the team is that they maintain high standards, are conscientious and steady, define, clarify, get information and test it. They are task oriented.

Analyzing your Team

Effective communication is a must for managers and leaders. It builds a sense of community among employees by letting them in on the business-of-business by reaching them on their wavelength — by adapting to their preferred communications style.

Think about your employees and which of the above descriptors apply to them; then use the tips provided to adapt your style to theirs. The effectiveness of your communications will improve significantly, and so will your organization’s performance and productivity!

If you would like a complimentary report that measures your communications style, or the style of one of your employees, please contact me via email at [email protected].

Ted Szaniawski is founder and Principal of HRGroup, a provider of Human Resource support services, including hiring practices, compensation programs, talent development and more. For additional info, or to suggest a topic for a future article, please email [email protected].