Communicating to only a third of your staff!

To successfully ‘get the message across’, a Manager needs to communicate to their staff, appealing to all forms of learning preference.

Something going wrong in business is likely to lead to reflection and maybe even recriminations and blame.  Were the objectives clearly communicated?  Have our staff got the appropriate skill sets to implement?  Do our staff understand the benefits to the business from correct implementation?

These are all great questions that are worth exploring but often the failure of the task is caused simply by those tasked with implementation have a different communication style from the communicator.


Using our senses

When we take in information, we take it through three different senses: our eyes, our ears and touch (kinaesthetic). Our kinaesthetic sense – getting actively involved – is our strongest method of correctly receiving and storing information.  This is why when studying for exams, student take notes.  Simply writing down and becoming involved with the communicated information makes it easier to retain.

Of the other two methods, (eyes and ears), it very much depends upon your personality type and how you have trained yourself through your own occupation. For example, accountants tend to be stronger with visual information than average.  This is because they spend seven hours a day, five days a week, looking and collating number detail.  Accuracy of this information is key to their job.

Unfortunately, Managers often make the mistake of communicating to their staff using only one of the three mediums – the communication style they prefer!  As a result, there is a real risk that two thirds of their staff have not fully understood the communication, resulting in major inaccuracies with the final outcome.


What to do

So next time you have to communicate an important message to your staff, make sure you communicate it to all three communication preference types. For example, present via PowerPoint, explain and elaborate verbally (this is not reading the PowerPoint slide!) and get them to complete questions on the subject matter.

Your chances of the task being completed accurately have just massively improved.

When communicating on a one-to-one basis with your staff, tailor your communication style to meet their preference as opposed to expect them to align with you.

  • Visual people will often use visual words in their sentences. ‘I see’, ‘Looks good to me’.
  • Audial people will use words related to hearing. ‘Sounds about right’, ‘I hear what you say’.
  • Kinaesthetic people will use words related to feeling. ‘It feels right to me’, ‘I will give it the soft touch approach’.

Remember, no one person is only one of these styles but all of us have preferences.  If you are unsure or unable to determine your staff member’s preference style, then simply manage the situation with your eyes.  You will know when you are communicating ineffectively, simply by the confused or blank expression on their face!  When you see this, try recommunicating your point using an alternative communication style.