Every boss has managed at least one employee that doesn’t respond to coaching–you might have one on your team right now.
No matter how many times you go over your specific expectations or review procedures, this one team member continues to make costly mistakes that slow down productivity.
While it’s easy to blame poor performance on the employee, there may be another culprit: Your communication style.
A recent study on the cognitive-learning abilities of people compared to rats by researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium demonstrated something long-suffering managers have always suspected: humans can be slow to pick things up. This is because human comprehension is complex.
According to the research of Dr. Bernice McCarthy, creator of the widely adopted 4MAT teaching model that takes into account different learning styles, learning happens along a continuum, a cycle of understanding and buy-in.
The challenge for most managers is that each individual has an innate preference for a different approach to the cycle of learning–and your personal preferences don’t necessarily align with the rest of your team.
The upside is that the key to getting all-in engagement and consistent execution out of your team is a simple shift in how you communicate.
By integrating all four parts of a step-by-step learning cycle into your presentations or one-on-one discussions with your team, you are guaranteed to engage everyone in the room and generate better results:
Leadership author Simon Sinek was right–it really does start with why. When you begin to brief your team on a new project, help them understand why what you’re about to communicate is important. This is your opportunity to explore the question, “Why should I care?”
If an employee isn’t producing at a high level, helping him understand why the project is important, both to the company and to the individual employee, could be all you need to do to instigate a turnaround.
Once you’ve connected the work at hand to what’s important to your team, give them the background information they need to be successful.
Is your new product based on important customer research? Are you modifying a previous approach because you’re not hitting the metrics you set out for the program? Does this fit into a bigger strategy?
Here’s what your team wants to know to understand:
- What do I need to know?
- What resources are available to me?
- What data and evidence back this up?
How many times have you been to a meeting or training and walked away unclear on what your next step should be?
This is a common communication breakdown, and an easy one to correct. Give your team a chance to work through practical applications before sending them on their way. This might look like role-playing a new script, coaching through a sales conversation, or leading a hands-on demo of a new product.
Finally, lay out the conditions of success for your team. What does the future look like if they operate at peak performance? What new possibilities will emerge for your company? If they are going to make this work, what will each person need to own to make it happen?
This is your chance to solidify buy in by helping each member of your team understand, “If I do this thing, what result am I going to create?”
Depending on the importance of what you’re communicating, you can expand or shrink each step to suit your needs. For example, if you are having a coaching conversation with an employee who is struggling to meet his sales goals, you might work through the cycle in just a few minutes.
On the other hand, if you’re launching a new product line or sharing the company’s sales strategy for the next quarter, the time you allocate to each step would expand to match the opportunity at stake.
The bottom line is to be intentional about leading your team through the process of answering these questions to engage, equip, and empower your team for higher results.