Changes to the expectations of a manager can result in overt and covert communication amongst colleagues. Improving staff engagement is important and being able to encourage your associates to communicate with each other will foster the development of new ideas through their interactions in formal and informal settings. These conversations could lead to innovation and change that benefit the organization but if never encouraged, new perspectives may not become adopted or discontent could ferment.
Managers may need to learn how to foster communication amongst colleagues and their employees.
Breaking the ice by encouraging informal communication through the electronic and social media available may be a useful first step.
Getting people in the room and talking may need the following three steps:
1. Ask for feedback on an experience team members have in common. For example, their experience of the informal networking opportunities. Ask them to give their opinions about the value and benefits of what they experienced. Questions must be open-ended, genuine and inquisitive.
2. Accept that some things will remain covert, like personal or group motives, guiding beliefs and defenses. A question about “what is really going on” may shut down the communication even more.
3. Align people with something that they value. This can be done individually through exploring their vision for their career, department or for a project. It can also be done less formally in a group by using the cultural and generational differences in the group and exploring similarities in interests like entertainment or sport, for example.
Unlike groups that are openly vocal, some individual contributors may need time and patience to develop trust that their views will be listened to. If your approach as the manager is not successful right away, do not take it personally. Keep exploring rather than judging. This will allow your own mind to be less threatened in the situation.
Contact me if you would like some coaching around the topic of getting your associates to talk.