How to Talk Your Way Out of a Knife Fight


According to a recent survey, there is a large gap between the way top leaders view their own job performance and how their teams rate them. One of the major gaps was identified as a poor communications culture. Limited decision making and fear of retribution were noted as two of the biggest roadblocks in job performance.

People end up doing battle — the knife fight.

So how do you implement a culture of communications which turns employees into decision makers and problem solvers?

It’s about staying out of the alley. Here are seven tips you and your colleagues can use to solve problems before you get into the back alley of combat.

1. Build a Foundation of Transparency

Nothing instills a lack of confidence and distrust in a leader or company than withholding information which should be shared across the organization. By practicing open and transparent communication you can empower them to feel informed and more invested in the company’s objectives and goals as well as creating valuable opportunities to share their ideas, learn new skills, and enrich one another as employees and as individuals.

2. Create regular Brainstorming Sessions

By including all management and employees in regular brainstorming sessions, your workplace can benefit from the exchange of new ideas and solutions. It provides the perfect setting to evaluate the tools which are working and identify and put plans into researching alternatives.

3. Provide Training for All Employees

By enrolling employees in professional skill training programs, you are providing them with the tools to help them develop better problem solving skills. In a workshop setting, and working in groups, employees can be trained on how to manage common workplace problems such as customer complaints, conflicts between coworkers and misunderstandings.  Using root cause analysis techniques, participants are encouraged to identify at least five possible triggers for each problem. This helps them to determine what happened and why it happened and set out measures to prevent it from happening in the future.

4. Implement Communication Channels

An essential procedure in creating a culture of communication is facilitating employees in your organization with a low risk way of raising issues that are of concern to them. This can be established through the simple measure of setting up and committing to a one-to-one meeting periodically between a manager and employee which is designated time to discuss issues and roadblocks to productivity, assign tasks and hold follow up meetings on solution progress.

5. Encourage Personal Connections

One way to build trust and open communication is to encourage your team members to see their colleagues as people. This can be achieved by creating situations where coworkers are encouraged to share their personal stories which help them bond, strengthening the team. Think about asking the team to share a personal story in your weekly meetings, or arrange regular team building activities outside of work which allow colleagues to get to know each other outside of the work setting. When a team knows their colleagues on a personal level, this helps them form stronger connections which facilitates easier communications and makes collaborative problem solving more natural and effective.

6. Assign Projects To Teams Instead Of Individuals

Instead of tasking individuals with certain projects, make a practice of building teams within teams to work together closely on bigger assignments. Having several people work on one project together will not only speed up completion, but it will also foster collaboration, team work, communication and accountability to eachother. Also facilitate a culture where teams are encouraged to tackle projects without top management permission or guidance, this will instill confidence within the team and allow management to focus on the bigger company strategy

7. Cross-Train Employees

By providing cross training between employees, this allows employees to understand other functions within the team and helps them to make decisions on a team or company level rather than on their own area alone. Encourage employees to spend time with other teams and learning new skills. Having a fresh perspective on the daily tasks of another team member can also lead to recommendations for better solutions and facilitate collaboration on new initiatives.

Now share these seven ideas with your favorite brawlers and back alley street fighters (around the office!) So you can stay productive and out of conflict.

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