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Opening Team Communication Lines

April 2, 2010

One of the benefits of working as a team is the power of more brains, eyes and ears at work for a common purpose.  It is important for team members to feel safe to speak their truth.  If teams do not trust, they will not be proactive.  They will revert to the “not my job mentality” which is the seal of doom for projects.  From the very start you must create a safe environment for your teams to communicate and exchange ideas.  Everyone must be heard.

Some team members are reticent to speak up in groups.  Make sure that everyone understands that you are available to listen, both in the group and individually.  Seek out team members who do not speak out in the group for one-on-one conversations.  Ask them for feedback.

Remember to praise publicly and critique privately.  While conflict is normal and should not be discouraged completely, personal attacks and aggression towards others must be addressed immediately and firmly.  The team is watching you.  Your response teaches them how the team should respond.  If you avoid dealing with problems, they will too.  Teams are looking for fairness, honesty and leadership.

Just the name “soft skills” gives leadership and management skills a bad rap.  In my experience, they are the most difficult to learn and develop.  They require practice, dedication and life-long learning.  So called “soft skills” are 80-90% of any manager’s job.  Learn to do them well and the world is yours!

Resources:

Confront the Top Three Excuses for Not Speaking Up

Leading and Managing During Difficult Times

Managers: Reduce the Stress by Increasing the Feedback

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2010 8:02 pm

    From: Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach
    Thank you so much for your last point about how important “soft skills” really are and adding your voice for changing the name. Interpersonal skills or people-skills deliver far more meaning and erase the ridiculous comparison to to hard skills. I will RT your post on Twitter.

    Here are two of my posts on people-skills for you and your readers:
    ——————————
    http://katenasser.com/soft-skills-employers-need-3-solid-steps/

    http://katenasser.com/teamwork-gems-create-startling-results/

    Best wishes and thanks for posting.
    Kate Nasser

    • April 5, 2010 11:22 pm

      Kate,
      Thanks for sharing. Interpersonal skills are key skills for all job functions, and critical for Project Managers.

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