Great leaders understand the need to change their communication styles to ensure their message remains consistent, fair and effective.
Mindset have developed model that ensures communication is effective and at the same time improves relationships and enhances the manager’s leadership position.
Too often we hear from employees that their managers are inconsistent, that they are ‘either hot or cold’, and that the employees ‘never know where they stand’. Managers complain that their employees don’t listen, or that they just go on doing what they’ve always done.
Mindset's four-level model encourages managers to pitch their message at exactly the right level to ensure that the person receiving the message clearly and consistently understands the manager's intent. It also helps the manager communicate the urgency or level of importance of the message and leaves the recipient in no doubt where he or she stands.
The Right Way
The right way to build trust in communication is to carefully adapt your communication style to the message, the situation, and the person with whom you are communicating.
Level 1 - ‘Let’s do this together...’
Good leaders know that the easy way to get people to do what you want them to is to spend lots of time at Level 1 - ‘let’s do this together’. Effective leaders work co-operatively with their employees, encouraging, leading by example and clarifying expectations when necessary.
Level 2 - ‘I need you to...’
But leaders know that there are also times when they need to be more directive - when time is short, for example, or when it’s important to be very specific. An example might be ‘I need you to get back to this client now...’
Level 3: ‘I told you to...’
And what happens when things go wrong? Leaders need to ensure clarity and mustn’t be afraid to be completely candid when communicating with their employees. It’s no good beating around the bush, when things don’t work out the way you expected you need to look the employee in the eye and say ‘I told you to...’.
Level 4: ‘If you don’t...’
And if the employee simply doesn’t want to do what you ask? Then it’s time to go to Level 4 - ‘If you don’t...’ makes it very clear that you have reached the end of the line. Make sure this isn’t an empty threat, however, by never threatening anything that you are not prepared to do (or capable of doing). And when you do get the result you want always remember to reward the employee by going straight back to Level 1!
Follow the Levels - Back to Level 1
The key here is to understand that there are four distinct levels - the employee needs to be given time to comply at each level before the leader ‘escalates’ to the next level.
And at the first opportunity the leader has to go straight back to Level 1 - no nagging and no grudges!
The employee needs to learn that the leader’s preferred way of working is ‘let’s do this together...’ but he’s not afraid to go to Level 4 ‘if you don’t...’ if necessary.
As soon as the leaders gets the result (a change in behaviour or attitude) that he’s looking for it’s time to go straight back to level 1. Until the next time he needs to go to Level 2.
Isn’t This inconsistent?
The secret is to apply each level consistently - so the employee learns that a consistent level of ‘incorrect’ behaviour will attract a consistent level of communication from the leader, and that the leader want’s to consistently communicate at Level 1.
Another secret is to spend progressively less time at the higher levels, as the diagram shows. Don’t be afraid to go to Level 4, but when you do, communicate your point, get the change in behaviour you need and then drop straight back to Level 1.
The Wrong Way
There are lots of wrong ways to communicate, as this model helps to illustrate:
have you worked with a manager who spent all of his time at Level 4
? They only way these people seem to know how to communicate is with threats and bluster - ‘if you don’t...’
When they do drop in to Level 1 it comes across as so cheesy and insincere their employees are relieved when they go back to Level 4!
these are the people who jump straight from Level 1
to Level 4
to Level 1
to Level 4
Their employees don’t know where they stand from day to day - and sometimes from hour to hour. These leaders are often very unsure of themselves and how to communicate to ‘get the job done’. One minute they’re your best mate - ‘let’s do this together...’ - and the next they’re frantic - ‘if you don’t...’
Practice Your Communication Ninja Skills
Like most skills effective communication needs practice. Reflect on the way you relate to the people around you. Look for feedback cues that show you how people perceive your communication. Practice communicating at Level 1 for as much time as you can, slowly escalating only when necessary, and when you do escalate your communication style, be consistent in your approach and return to Level 1 as soon as you can.
Have you worked for a manager with great communication skills? Or one who fit our alternative models? Can you see how using this model could improve your own communication and relationships with your employees?
We’d like to hear about your experience. Let us know using the Comments link below.