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Building Better Communication Through Actionable Books
Strong teams are built on trust and a deep understanding of other’s values, aspirations and motivation, supported by a mutual appreciation of each other. But how can hard working professionals with little time come to understand and develop that trust and appreciation that’s so important to their long term success? How does a team take time to connect? Most of us aren’t ready to sit in a circle, sing kumbaya, and share our feelings.
At Actionable Books, we’ve been developing the concept of Collaborative Communication which offers a highly effective method of fast-tracking cultural development and team trust growth.
Collaborative Communication, as a team development methodology, is about getting all members of a team (including its manager) to learn a new concept together. As a collaborative unit, the team works to understand what a concept, process, or best practice means and how it might apply to its unique circumstances. At ActionableBooks.com, we’ve created a tool called Actionable Workshops that provides busy team leaders with access to forty-four pre-packaged modules that make it easy for these conversations to come to life in a team’s office. Here’s an example of how it might play out:
Let’s say the manager wants to talk about time management. So she grabs a workshop inspired by The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by the late Stephen Covey. Over the course of the first 20 minutes of an hour long session, the manager would explain a few concepts from the book, making sure that everyone understands them clearly (We call this “tactical learning.”). Then, during the remaining 40 minutes of the session, the team (including the manager) works through exercises that help them figure out how to apply those time management concepts to their own lives and business. Those 40 minutes become a catalyst for deeper thinking, planning and – most importantly – conversation.
Team members walk away from each workshop session with practical knowledge that they can each apply to their professional lives, as well as a deeper understanding of the people around them. When run on a frequent basis (Every 4-6 weeks has proven to provide maximum impact.), these sessions act as an anchoring point for team growth.
The obvious benefit of this approach is that the team learns something new every month, without having to read an entire book. The perhaps not-so-obvious benefit – one that far outweighs the tactical learning – is that, for an hour a month, the team gets to communicate with each other, discuss their professional life without referring to immediate issues, fires that need to be put out, or specific client cases. More importantly, the conversation is not a manager vs team mentality that many employee performance reviews take. Instead, the manager and her team are collaborating, working through the concept together; discussing the potential application to the business and to the team. Working together to apply an idea, the team connects with something deeper, i.e. issues, feelings and aspirations that are lurking just below the surface.
We’re so busy in our lives, flying from fire to fire, that we rarely take time to reflect on what’s important to us in the long term. Even more rarely do we engage in conversation like this with our peers. Over the last four years at Actionable Books, we’ve found that teams who do have these types of conversations, on a regular basis, consistently realize higher productivity, lower turnover and a general increase in morale. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If you could come to work knowing that your colleagues understand and respect you, and that you all share a desire to see each other succeed, wouldn’t you be willing to work harder? Wouldn’t you think twice before moving to another company?
People want to be engaged in their work. They want to feel that what they do matters and that they have the support of the people around them in pursuing their own aspirations. As a leader, you have the ability – and the obligation – to create an environment that supports those desires. And you can use Actionable Books to help you achieve these goals.
The Language Lab Guest Blogger: Chris Taylor is the Founder and President of ActionableBooks.com; providing high performing leaders with tools to quickly and inexpensively develop themselves, their teams and their work relationships. To learn more and for a free trial of Actionable Workshops visit www.actionablebooks.com/workshops.