Communication Behaviors

Communication Behaviors

Behavior #5: Engaging & Involving

Whether it is a part of day to day business or related to a key project or initiative, taking time to engage and involve your employees in important workplace conversations is critical.  The opportunities provide leadership with fresh ideas and instill a sense of individual ownership for business processes and decisions.

Because every individual is unique, it is important to be creative and look for a variety of approaches for gathering feedback and testing new concepts.  Not every approach will resonate with every individual, but by consistently providing opportunities you send a message that the input and perspective of every member of the organization is valued.

In the video clip below Susan Basso, Vice President for Human Resources, and members of the HR Community reflect on their experience with the HR Transformation Project – a three year initiative to transition Human Resources to a new service delivery model.  Hear from them what they learned about the importance of engaging and involving employees as a result of this effort.

  1. Provide a variety of ways to become involved, no two people are alike.
  2. Empower people to try new approaches to work. 
  3. Create opportunities to work with new people and teams.
  4. Allow space for information-sharing and discussion.
  5. Test new processes, gather feedback and share before you finalize.
  6. Align work with individual strengths.

Try this: 

  1. WATCH a short video, "The Business Case for Strengths
  2. GATHER information on your team's interests and motivations. Consider using some of these questions:
    • What is the driving force that flips your switch and energizes you day in and day out?
    • What needs to happen each day for you to say "this was a great day"?
    • What are your passions?
    • What do you like most about your job?
    • What do you offer the world, personally and professionally?
    • What would you continue to strive to do even in the face of limited resources, personal disabilities, and formidable obstacles?
  3. IDENTIFY opportunities to engage and involve them in work that aligns with their interests and motivations.  

Behavior #4: Sharing

When leaders share information, not only are they helping to set their employees up for success-- they are also demonstrating to their employees that they trust them and want them to be "in the know."

It is not always easy to lead with transparency.  As a leader, you are tasked with striking the right balance of exactly what to share, how much to share and with whom to share in relation to the context of each situation.

Please watch the short video clip below featuring Regis Becker, Director of University Ethics and Compliance, giving his thoughts on why sharing information is vital to the productivity and success of his team. 

  1. Sharing information prevents work in a vacuum. 
  2. You need a good reason not to share.
  3. Withholding information can be a negative control mechanism.
  4. Lack of information can lead to misinformation.
  5. Information creates a shared sense of ownership and purpose.
  6. When information is shared, effectiveness increases.

Click here to access an informative article "Career Coach: The importance of being more transparent at the office."

Try this:

1.  REFLECT - Take a moment and think about how you currently share information with your team. What do you share?  How often do you share?  With whom do you share?  Do you ever hesitate to share information?  If so, have you ever explored why?

2.  ASK – Ask someone to provide feedback regarding your information-sharing style.  What’s working?  What could you improve upon? 

3.  PRACTICE - Share information about Taking Action with your employees.  Even though this initiative is starting with the F&B senior leadership team, it will soon involve the entire F& B organization.

Focus on becoming more deliberate in the choices that you make around sharing information with the goal of being as transparent as possible.


Behavior #3: Asking Questions

Asking questions is a communication skill that will help foster healthier relationships between leaders, managers and co-workers. Intelligent questions stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire. Questions help us to teach as well as to learn.  Asking questions is not a sign of weakness or uncertainty, but a sign of strength and intelligence. Successful leaders constantly ask questions and are well aware that they do not have all the answers. Gary Langsdale, University Risk Officer shares his ‘Top Ten List for Better Communications- Asking’.

Try This: Practice asking more questions in your everyday conversations. Choose two individuals in your group and conduct stay interviews. Use some of the Questions to Ask Your Employees, and draw upon the previous building rapport and listening skills learned earlier.  

Try This (Bonus): To get feedback on your leadership effectiveness, try asking some of these Questions to Get Feedback.

Behavior #2: Listening 

Listening skills are an important part of effective communication. Active listening is a communication skill that can bring greater connection, cooperation, clarity and understanding to relationships. Charlie Noffsinger, Assistant VP for University Police and Public Safety introduces his nine practical principles for changing how people listen to each other. Listen to his thoughts below or view a copy of his principles.

Try This:  Rate your listening ability using the ‘Tips- Rate your Listening Ability’ assessment.  Choose a corresponding principle from Charlie’s list and practice it for one month. More importantly, manage your devices for meetings. Put your cell phone away and let people know if you use your device for note-taking.

Behavior #1: Building Rapport

Building Rapport with your staff is the foundation of developing trust throughout the organization. Engaging in meaningful conversation creates a safe environment for the exchange of ideas and lowers the barriers that prevent effective communication. 

Below is a link to the Taking Action Communication Behaviors video – Model. Interact. Engage. The first part of the video explains the concept of leaders modeling communication behaviors for the purpose of interacting and engaging with colleagues and staff.

In the second part of the video, I will be explaining and modeling Communication Behavior #1: Building Rapport. Some of the techniques you will see – walking the halls, smiling and greeting people, and interacting with staff wherever they are working – are actions that you can begin doing immediately.

TRY THIS! Schedule time to walk around your unit and engage with employees. Each week (for one month) go meet someone in your department you never met, or find out something new about one of your team members. Be prepared to share your experience and/or successes.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the Taking Action initiative. Please visit the Taking Action website for more information.


David Gray

Helpful Resources:

    Watch your inbox and check back often, behaviors still to come in this series:

    • Asking
    • Sharing
    • Engaging
    • Praising & Acknowledging