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Maximise your important business conversations


Maximise your important business conversations

Maximise your important business conversations

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Page 1 Page 2  FIONA COHN MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS ACHIEVE A POSITIVE AND PRODUCTIVE RESULT IN ANY CONVERSATION 2 Page 3 Maximise your important business conversations: Achieve a positive and productive result in any conversation 1st edition © 2016 Fiona Cohn & bookboon.com ISBN 978-87-403-1556-1 3 Page 4 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS Contents CONTENTS About the Author 6 Section 1 11 1 It’s more complicated than you think – common myths 12 1.1 Giving information is communicating 12 1.2 Communication is two way 12 1.3 What you say is the most important element of communication 13 1.4 It’s obvious what you mean when you communicate 14 1.5 Communicating effectively takes too long 15 1.6 You don’t need to plan your communication 15 1.7 Stories are for children 15 1.8 Big words make you look clever 16 2 The key components and basic principles of communication 17 2.1 Verbal and Non Verbal Communication 17 2.2 Choose your Channels wisely 25 2.3 Speaking and Listening 27 A C A R EER W I T H I N F I N A N CE & I T Denmark’s largest provider of financial software solutions needs YOU! Offering you personal and professional growth We are a leading sup- The SimCorp culture is characterized by open Who are we looking for? plier of highly specialized dialogue, empowerment and fast decision-making. Our core competencies lie within economics, software and expertise Reporting lines are clear, thus action is not bogged finance and IT, and as a result the majority of our for financial institutions down in bureaucracy. We believe in solving work- employees have a master degree within business and corporations – related challenges together, and you will find that and finance, IT, mathematics or engineering. activities, which have established our repu- both management and colleagues are very receptive tation as “the house to suggestions and new ideas. Are you completing of financial know- your master degree this year? how”. We are listed As newly hired employee in SimCorp you will go Then apply now – why wait – a fast tracked inter- on the OMX Nordic through an extensive introduction period, in addition national orientated career is just around the corner! Exchange Copenhagen to being provided with a mentor. This gives you the and have 800+ emplo- opportunity to secure the know-how necessary to yees. perform efficiently. Care to join us? – Visit us at www.simcorp.com SIMCORP A/S · Oslo Plads 12 · DK-2100 Copenhagen O · Denmark · +45 35 44 88 00 · www.simcorp.com 4 Page 5 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS Contents 3 Communication breakdowns 30 3.1 Test understanding 30 3.2 Lack of consistency 31 3.3 When Words and Behaviour don’t match 31 3.4 Having a preconceived idea 32 3.5 Lack of Trust 33 3.6 The consequences of communication break-down 33 Section 2 Putting Communication Theory into Practice 36 4 Conducting productive appraisals 37 4.1 Frequency 37 4.2 Responsibility 38 4.3 Preparation 38 4.4 How not to do it 40 4.5 Intent 41 4.6 Physical surroundings 42 4.7 Focus 42 4.8 What are you noticing? 43 4.9 Questioning 43 5 Giving and receiving Feedback 45 5.1 Feedback is a gift 45 5.2 Golden Rules of Feedback 49 6 Making Change Work 55 6.1 Why change fails 55 6.2 The Change Curve 56 6.3 Principles of change communication 56 7 Delegating to get great results 65 7.1 Delegating versus Dumping/Abdicating 65 7.2 Understanding preferred management style 66 7.3 Basic principles of delegating 67 Section 3 Conclusion 73 5 Page 6 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS About the Author ABOUT THE AUTHOR Fiona’s background is in media, marketing communications and management and she brings a wealth of experience gained in a variety of business sectors. She has sound commercial acumen and experience of supporting businesses to grow their market share and profits. She works with business owners, executives and teams, improving efficiency and productivity and saving them time, and their businesses money…by doing things differently. After a 15-year career in the competitive world of sports broadcasting, marketing, PR and sponsorship, she moved into business development and consultancy, in industries as diverse as insurance, distilling, international courier services and sport. Using her marketing skills, she built and enhanced clients’ brands to increase market share. She has also managed major accounts in IT and Telecommunications businesses to increase profitability and provide communications expertise. A frustration with the way businesses communicated with their staff, led her to specialise in corporate and internal communications. She has run successful communication activities for a range of business transformation, consultation, organisational change and employee engagement projects. She has experience of embedding change, making it work for staff and the organisation; and coaching and mentoring staff through the process. 6 Page 7 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS About the Author Passionate about effective communication and employee engagement, often overlooked by businesses, but fundamental to business success, she has worked with organisations to improve management/staff relationships through better engagement. This has resulted in more commitment and productivity from staff, improved customer service, retention and financial performance. She has also been responsible for ensuring the success of a variety of change initiatives including organisational and people change, IT and systems, business transformation and client transfers. She has a natural coaching style, and even before qualifying as a coach, she successfully coached and mentored staff in the workplace for many years. Her coaching qualification gave her the confidence to set up her own business with the aim of making workplaces happier, healthier and more productive. That often starts with focussing on leadership behaviours, attitudes and communication practices. She works with ambitious business owners and senior staff to help them overcome barriers to growth, helping them develop the mindset, skills and systems essential for high performance. She is an engaging trainer who has worked with managers and teams to make them more effective. In addition, she has coached small business owners to become more productive, focussed and successful. Fiona’s strength is a natural ability to solve business problems. Her client led, pragmatic and goal centred approach is designed to achieve improvements in performance. Additionally, her clients benefit from increased confidence, more focus and more structured, client focussed ways of working. She provides a balanced external perspective and holds her clients to account so that they implement changes and make sustained improvement. Fiona enjoys working with businesses on the following activities: Communications and engagement – consultation, employee lifecycle, recruitment and retention, induction, channel creation and management, messaging, event creation and management, feedback, employee investment, performance and productivity measurements. Leadership and management development – including diagnostic, communication and presentation skills, performance improvement, training and behavioural change 7 Page 8 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS About the Author Customer Focus and Marketing – Internal engagement – building the business strong from the core; sales, marketing, account management, client and supplier relationship management Making Change work – overcoming resistance to change, embedding change, maintaining productivity during the change process Strategic Planning – bringing the business plan to life and ensuring staff support business growth and work to further the business objectives Business diagnostics, planning and systemisation – research, analysis and action planning making businesses scalable, monitoring and evaluating “People are the reason why businesses succeed or fail and that means employing the right staff and treating them with the care and respect they deserve. Workers are no longer willing to tolerate a ‘command and control’ management style and that means that business owners and leaders will have to become better at leading and inspiring, communicating with their teams and working with them to achieve better results. Most business owners I speak to believe that the customer is the most important focus for their business, but they often focus on the customer at the expense of their staff. I believe that businesses are built from the inside out and the internal brand and values need to be strong and inform behaviour if the customer is to be served well. I’ve been a professional communicator for my whole career and I have seen and experienced the benefits of great communication on business performance. Sadly, the instances of poor, ineffective and destructive communication practices vastly outweigh the positive experiences. I’m on a mission to help the businesses I work with change that.” If you are interested in finding out more about how Fiona can support you or your business, please connect with her: email her at: [email protected] Call her on: +44 (0) 7971 103232 8 Page 9 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS At work – and everywhere else for that matter, ineffective conversations lead to misunderstanding and conflict. In business, not only is this frustrating for business owners, managers and staff, but it costs everyone time (something we all complain we don’t have enough of ) and it costs the business money. It is possibly the single greatest barrier to achieving business objectives and business success. George Bernard Shaw summed it up perfectly: “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place” Can you remember the last time you delegated a piece of work or asked someone to do something for you – and what you got back just wasn’t what you expected? How frustrated were you? And what about the other person? Was there a bit of ‘strained relations syndrome’ going on as a result? This happens at work every day of the week and all because people don’t know some of the basic rules about effective communication. We think that because we were born with mouths and ears that we use every day, and we often get away with it, that we can communicate. But in my decades as a communication professional I have seen otherwise. This book sets out to help you understand the basic principles of effective communication and show you how to put them into practice. And unlike most books covering this topic that are aimed at managers, I’ll be looking at conversations from a variety of perspectives so it will be as relevant for you if you are the most junior person on the team or the business owner. That’s because it’s all about perspective…not yours but the person you are communicating with. The book will focus on four of the most critical business communication conversations that regularly take place at work and have the greatest influence on staff productivity and business performance. These are: Delegating to others Giving and receiving feedback Appraisals Managing change 9 Page 10 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS This book will give you strategies and tools so you’ll know exactly how to have these conversations to get the positive and productive result you want. You’ll help others get it right first time, most of the time, get rid of employee apathy and make the place you work better at making change work. Much of what is in this book will seem like common sense. Sadly, it is not common practice in business. In my work I’m constantly amazed by how uncommon, common sense is. Communication is how we do business – we get it wrong at our peril. 10 Page 11 SECTION 1 11 Page 12 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS It’s more complicated than you think – common myths 1 IT’S MORE COMPLICATED THAN YOU THINK – COMMON MYTHS I’m talking about communication. We think we know what it is – but many of us don’t. This chapter will unpick the principles of how to communicate effectively, what communication is and is not, and what works with different personality types. Before you can put it into practice, you need to understand the theory. I’d like to start by busting the most common communication myths. 1.1 GIVING INFORMATION IS COMMUNICATING In business, people often mistake giving information for communicating. It’s not. Giving information is one way. It is either broadcasting if you’re giving the information to a group or narrowcasting if you’re in a one to one situation. You can give people as much information as you like but you’ll not know their reaction unless you engage in a dialogue of some sort. 1.2 COMMUNICATION IS TWO WAY Two-way communication usually referred to in business as top down and bottom up is better than one-way communication. Communication is in fact three-way, peer to peer communication plus the other two. Never underestimate the influence of colleagues within teams to influence each other. Peer to peer communication is vital if you want to create a culture of innovation and collaboration. 12 Page 13 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS It’s more complicated than you think – common myths 1.3 WHAT YOU SAY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF COMMUNICATION Research done by Professor Albert Mehrabian in the 1960s came up with the statistic (now hotly disputed) suggesting how the key elements of communication are broken down. Figure 1: Elements of Communication Words are probably much more important than this study suggested but they are only one element of communication. Think about the last time you asked a colleague who seemed in a bad mood if they were OK and they hissed back at you through clenched teeth ‘I’m fine.’ How much did you believe them? Or another colleague who habitually apologises for not responding. They say they are sorry, but if they keep doing it you’re left wondering if they really are. It would be more accurate to say that communication can be broken down into two elements: Verbal communication – the words, or ‘raw data’ you use and Non-verbal communication – the ‘flavour’ of the words. This is the element that adds underlying emotions, motives, feelings and attitude to what you say. 13 Page 14 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS It’s more complicated than you think – common myths What you say, how you say it and how you behave (what you do) are all important and to communicate effectively you’ll want to master all three. And a word of warning, if you contradict something you say with something you do, everyone will believe what you do and not what you say. 1.4 IT’S OBVIOUS WHAT YOU MEAN WHEN YOU COMMUNICATE Let’s paint a scenario here. You’re asking for someone to help you with a project at work. You tell them what you want them to do and leave them to it. You are completely familiar with the project and they are not. So you believe you have been completely clear in your instruction. A few days later they come back having completed the task you asked them to do. It’s not remotely what you expected. What did you assume when you were asking them in the first place? This is all about perspective. It was obvious to you what you meant by the instruction but it was not obvious to your colleague. And that’s your fault. If you communicate from your own perspective, more often than not, you won’t get what you asked for. Lighting, beyond illumination In 10 years 2/3 of people will be living in big cities. At Philips we focus on providing lighting beyond illumination to make these cities more livable, enjoyable and safe. #makeitmeaningful What will be your impact? www.philips.com/careers 14 Page 15 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS It’s more complicated than you think – common myths Another common misconception is that if you repeat yourself enough times, the other person will get it. I’m sure you’ve heard an exasperated colleague saying ‘but I’ve told you a hundred times.’ That’s the communication equivalent of the definition of madness – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result! It’s not about what you say but rather what the listener hears. All communication takes place in the mind of the listener. 1.5 COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY TAKES TOO LONG ‘I don’t have time to explain things in detail,’ is a common management complaint. That’s fine if you have the time you’ll need to spend redoing the work when it was done incorrectly in the first place. Communicating effectively does take a little longer to start with. In the end it will save you a lot of time when things are done right first time, most of the time. 1.6 YOU DON’T NEED TO PLAN YOUR COMMUNICATION I’m astounded by the lack of preparation people put into important conversations or meetings. They don’t take the time to think about what they want to achieve and how they will know when they have achieved it. This is the reason why many conversations and meetings fail to achieve their objectives and are a waste of time. Planning your communication is the first step to improving productivity. 1.7 STORIES ARE FOR CHILDREN Everybody loves stories. If you can illustrate your point with a story, people will engage with it. This is as important when communicating a business strategy as it is when encouraging colleagues to get involved with a project. Stories are a powerful way to present a business case or argument. Create stories based on a simple formula: What the situation was Who was involved How it resolved Why this information is useful Start to build a bank of relevant stories that you can use at work. 15 Page 16 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS It’s more complicated than you think – common myths It is impossible not to communicate. As soon as you walk into a room you’ve communicated something whether you say anything or not. Your facial expression, how you move, whether you make eye contact or not. It all says something about your frame of mind. 1.8 BIG WORDS MAKE YOU LOOK CLEVER No they don’t – especially if you’re spouting some management BS that you don’t actually understand. People who communicate well use plain language. People who use plain language are more interested in being understood than in trying to impress. Plain language is about making things more easily understood – getting the meaning across clearly and concisely to the intended audience. Plain language is something that the intended audience can hear, read, understand and act upon the first time they hear or read it. It’s not about ‘dumbing down’, but about using the appropriate language for the audience. If you don’t understand exactly what you mean when you communicate, how can you possibly expect anybody else to? I was once interviewing a company director for the staff magazine. He started talking about how important it was to engage staff. As this is a subject I’ve been interested in for years, I wanted to know more. When I asked him what he understood by engagement and what would show him that staff were engaged he admitted he didn’t have a clue. So I asked why he said it if he didn’t understand it. His answer was interesting – because everyone else on the senior leadership team was talking about the importance of engagement he thought he ought to do the same. To say any respect I had for him diminished in that moment is an understatement! I developed my own definition for effective communication which has helped many of the staff I’ve trained understand the fundamental principle of communication: ‘You know that communication has taken place when the person or people you’ve communicated with do, behave or feel exactly the way you intended them to as a result of the communication’. Communication is about achieving an outcome – not for its own sake. 16 Page 17 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS The key components and basic principles of communication 2 THE KEY COMPONENTS AND BASIC PRINCIPLES OF COMMUNICATION We are going to get technical in this section so that you understand the key components and how to use them in principle. 2.1 VERBAL AND NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION 2.1.1 VERBAL COMMUNICATION The verbal part of communication is the words we use. And those words impact on others and leave a lasting impression, good and bad. Words can make or break a relationship so choose them wisely. In business your choice of words could make or break your career or relationships with important stakeholders. ‘Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you’ ‘Don’t mix bad words with your bad mood. You’ll have many opportunities to change a mood, but you’ll never get the opportunity to replace the words you spoke’ ‘One kind word can change someone’s entire day’ Using different language will impact how others react to you. If you use passive verbs, people are less likely to trust or believe you. If you’ve ever been in a position of needing to complain and the person you complain to responds with ‘something will be done’ or’ there will be an investigation’ your subconscious goes into overdrive. What will be done? Who will do it? When will they do it? If the response had been ‘I will investigate / do (something specific) you automatically have much more faith that the person you have complained to is taking ownership of the issue and will do what they say they will about it. You should use active verbs for 80% of the time. Sometimes using passive verbs is better, usually to avoid hostility. ‘A mistake was made’ is much less threatening than ‘you made a mistake’. 17 Page 18 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS The key components and basic principles of communication For the next few days, notice how people use active and passive verbs and how you react to them. Using positive language rather than negative language will make what you say easier to understand. For example: ‘If you don’t bring your report to the meeting we won’t be able to plan the next steps’, – which is negative, as opposed to: ‘Please bring your report to the meeting so that we can plan the next steps.’ Not only is the negative sentence less clear, it carries a veiled threat. The positive sentence is more motivating. 2.1.2 DIFFERENT PERSONALITY TYPES I have a client who wants to have every last detail before she is able to make a decision. Her business partner hates all the detail and only wants a snapshot. Observing them in a conversation is interesting. You can see him switch off as she starts getting into the detail. Psychometric tests showed that they are polar opposite personality types (although it didn’t need a test of any sort to work that one out). Think of your colleagues and the way they react in conversations. If you notice that they aren’t interested in the detail, don’t give it to them. The more you speak, the less they will listen anyway. If you’re sending them emails it’s probably wise to limit each email to one subject or issue, use bullet points and keep it brief. They will respond much better to that than to a long, wordy email. Likewise, if you have a colleague that wants lots of detail, give it to them. Even if you don’t think all the detail is important they will, and remember: communication always happens in the mind of the listener or receiver so it’s what they want that is important. 2.1.3 NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION The non-verbal part of communication adds tone and context to the words you use. Or it may be a total communication in itself. 18 Page 19 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS The key components and basic principles of communication I once worked for someone who had violent mood swings. He would come storming into the office some mornings, march to his glass fronted office and shut the door. On days like that nobody enjoyed working there. Staff were afraid. The culture he created led to staff turnover in his business of around 30% year on year – and the business had fewer than 50 members of staff. On the basis that it costs between 100–150% of an annual salary to replace a member of staff, that cost his business many thousands of pounds every year. 2.1.4 TONE OF VOICE How you use your voice influences others’ reaction to your words. Have you ever had to listen to someone talking in a monotone for any length of time? It doesn’t matter how interesting the subject is, you tend to switch off. Varying your tone makes you interesting to listen to. 2.1.5 PITCH High and low pitched voices are difficult to listen to for any length of time. You may think there isn’t much you can do about your natural speaking voice – and you’d be wrong. Women with lower pitched voices are deemed to be more authoritative. Margaret Thatcher and Nicola Sturgeon are two good examples. If you listen to recordings of how Margaret Thatcher’s voice changed from when she was first elected to when she became Prime Minister, you’ll notice a big difference. And think about your own reaction to men with high pitched voices. If you notice the pitch something needs changing. 2.1.6 PACE Varying the pace of your speech makes you easier to listen to. People who speak too quickly often find that people haven’t understood them well. They can also be viewed as excitable. And when you listen to someone who speaks slowly, do you find yourself losing concentration? 2.1.7 PROJECTION The way you project your voice gives people an impression of your confidence. Mumble, talk behind your hand, speak too softly and people could think you don’t believe in what you’re saying or lose trust in you. Conversely, speaking too loudly could give the impression you are brash, or threatening. 19 Page 20 MAXIMISE YOUR IMPORTANT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS The key components and basic principles of communication 2.1.8 PAUSE AND USING SILENCE Using silence well is a communication art. Most of us hate silence, which is a shame because it can be very valuable. Silence gives you and others time to think in the middle of a conversation. You’ll need to be able to tell the difference between silence because someone is thinking and silence because they are confused or don’t understand. And with practice you’ll get better at that. Next time you ask someone a question and they don’t respond straight away, avoid the temptation to jump straight in and ask the question again in a different way. Let the person have time to think about it and the quality of their response will more likely than not be better than it would otherwise have been. 2.1.9 BODY LANGUAGE Body language will give you great clues to how someone is feeling. There are lots of books about body language so I won’t go into too much detail here. Maintaining open postures – where your arms and legs are not crossed, sensible eye contact and smiling are all good body language indicators. Also nodding when others are speaking to you so that they know you are engaging with them is good practice. 2.1.10 BUILDING EMPATHY AND RAPPORT Figure 2: Elements you need to create empathy and rapport 20

 

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