How to Make Sure Team Members Hear What You’re Saying

BY C. Lee Smith
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Overcommunicating is impossible inside a company, says Lee Caraher, author of The Boomerang Principle-​Inspire Lifetime Loyalty from Your Employees and Millennials & Management. Caraher was a recent guest on our Manage Smarter podcast and confirmed what most of us know. Managers get plenty of pushback on their team communications. 

People don’t want to read what you’ve prepared before a meeting. Sometimes, they don’t even want to come to the meeting, because they think they have better things to do. Is this acceptable? No. But it’s an indication of an organizational problem or two that you need to address.

Streamline Your Email Messages

We all feel overwhelmed by the volume of communications in our email inbox and on our office chat tools. If you’re feeling ignored, don’t come down hard on your staff and demand their attention. Clean up your act first. Give your email communications a hard look. Are they a little fluffy or stale? Cut down on extraneous information and tell people only what they need to know in these group communications. 

Reduce Meeting Frequency

If you’re stuck in the loop of holding weekly staff meetings, and you’re the only one talking, you have a problem. Your team members don’t have time to listen to you tell them the same thing again and again. They need time to get the work done. 

Cut down on the frequency of your team meetings and observe whether there’s any noticeable change in attitude or output. Instead of calling a meeting, try a different approach. You may be able to send out a top-​down communication through an email or a video message that will get your point across. And your team members will be able to review it when their schedule allows.

Getting Buy-​In

Some meetings will require attendance, though. To be sure employees attend, send out a teaser notice. Promise that your meeting will be short and sweet and will let employees know about their role in the big new initiative you’re planning. Once you make the meeting topic personal and involve the employees, they’ll attend.

If you’re still have trouble getting buy-​in for meeting attendance, have a frank discussion with team members who don’t seem to be getting the message. First, individuals must understand their role in the organization and as a member of the team. If they refuse to take in the information when you’re releasing it, they are slowing everyone down. Missing an important meeting and figuring you will bring them up to date in a one-​on-​one is disrespectful. 

Before you take action, remember your true goal. You don’t want to chastise employees, especially millennials. Caraher says “the fastest way to move a millennial into the fetal position is to tell them they let down the team.” Encourage every person to keep team goals top of mind. As a manager, be respectful of the time your team members need in order to do their jobs well and communicate accordingly.