Let's do a quick exercise:

Think about two opposing types of communication environments within a team: an open communication environment and a closed communication environment.

An open communication environment has the following characteristics:
- The communication flows in all directions
- Team members (including the team's boss) listen to different opinions and points of view
- There are several senders and recipients
- All ideas are considered
- There is trust to voice contradictory opinions
- Etc.

A closed communication environment has the following characteristics:
- The communication flows downward for the most part
- The team's boss doesn't listen much to her direct reports
- Typically the sender is the boss and the recipients are the direct reports
- Not all ideas are considered – the boss' ideas tend to prevail
- There is fear – team members don't voice contradictory opinions
- Etc.

You get the picture.

Now, in general terms and under normal-everyday working conditions, which one of these two communication environments do you think is more conducive to enhance team performance?

The open communication environment, of course.

Next, let's draw a continuum: On the right-hand side write the open communication environment, and on the left-hand side write the closed communication environment, and right between the two, in the middle of this continuum let's place a middle needle – like this:

Closed <--------------------|--------------------> Open

Now, think about the communication quality you have with each one of your direct reports; where would you place such communication on this continuum?

Once you have completed this exercise with all and each one of your direct reports, put them together, and now rate your overall team's communication quality (the team you lead) on this continuum.

Ideally, your team's communication quality should be on the far right side of this continuum. But if it isn't, whose responsibility is it to move the needle in the desired direction?

If you lead such team, you are the one who has such responsibility – not your direct reports. How do you move the needle? By creating trust – trust is the foundation of open communication, open communication leads to candor, which in turn leads to rich information, which in turn, is the basis of good decision-making.

Without an open communication environment, the team you lead is less likely to make good decisions every single time, and without trust, your direct reports are less likely to commit to the decisions made – you cannot afford such atrocity.

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I’d love to here from you – just reply to this e-zine and tell me what you would like future e-zines to be about – I'm listening.

Feel free to re-send this e-zine to your boss, to your employees, to your colleagues, etc.

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See you next month!
Jose Luis Romero, Publisher
October 6, 2009. Copyright: All rights reserved
Skills2Lead Ezine is published on the first Tuesday of every month.

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