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Team Communication: More Critical Than Ever

May 5, 2013

Team Collaboration is about Communiting EffectivelyHave you ever noticed that some teams have no problem hearing directives, goals, schedule changes, problems, mistakes and all the rest in a positive light while others seem to hear these as incompetency in management, secret individual agendas, politics or some other evil-doing that leads to either resistance, disengagement (sometimes seen as apathy) worse? It’s frustrating, and it’s dangerous for this behavior to exist. And while it’s tempting to say “I’m communicating just fine, they simply choose to be resistant,” one study found that while 93% of leaders and team members thought themselves to be effective communicators, only 11% of employees thought others were effective communicators. Everyone has a preferred communication style, and if some of your people aren’t hearing your messages, it may be a sign that you’re saying the wrong things—to the wrong people—at the wrong time OR your team members don’t have an effective understanding of the dynamics of communication and their role in the breakdown.

To be clear, we are after the highest level of individual engagement and team effectiveness possible that leads to accomplishment of goals, the creation of new thinking and the development and buy-in to strategy. We aren’t just looking for cooperation. We’re looking for collaboration. This needs to be a priority in boards (they are a team too!), executive teams, management leadership teams, cross-functional teams and department teams.

Success Insights DISC Wheel GraphUsing a popular behavioral model called DISC, first developed by William Moulton Marston (1893 – 1947), most people fall into one of four core communication styles: Dominant, Influence, Steady or Compliant. These are not personality types, but rather deal specifically with how people like to give and get information (specifically associated with our behavioral style, one component of our total talent). That’s important to recognize because the same information presented to these four styles will be heard differently. This isn’t just for leaders. Leaders and team members all need to deliver and engage these very different types of communication styles with information in a manner that is most effective for the receiver. And that’s where things start to get a bit tricky.

Obviously, in one-on-one communications, there’s only the other person’s preferred communication style to consider. But most group situations require communicating to a combination of two or more of these styles, and there are plenty of times when managers or team members need to adapt to all four styles at once. It’s a big challenge, but it absolutely can be done, and it’s what The Nielson Group focuses on in our most popular Dynamic Communication for Maximum Engagement and Collaboration workshops and team webinars.

Here’s a brief overview of the four communication styles that starts to explain why others may not be ignoring you, they just can’t hear you. After the overview, we’ll show a successful plan for implementing the workshop organization-wide.

The Dominant or Driver Style (D factor):

People whose core style is the Dominant style are described as adventuresome, authoritative, competitive, daring, decisive, direct, innovative, persistent, results-oriented, comfortable with risk-taking and a self starter. The emotion associated with the core D is anger. That is, they tend to be quick to anger, but then they tend to be quick to get over the anger as well.  They fear being taken advantage of. They need to be direct and they are always looking for results of some kind.

Under stress, the D style may be impatient, lacking tact, aggressive, argumentative, opinionated and demanding.

The ideal environment for the D style is to have freedom from controls, supervision and details. They want to be evaluated based on results, not process or method. They want the conversation to be forward directed, innovative and futuristic oriented. They prefer non-routine work that involves challenge and opportunity. They need a forum to express their ideas and viewpoints.

The Influence or Talking Style (I factor):

People whose core style is the Influence style are described as charming, confident, convincing, enthusiastic, good mixers, inspiring, open-minded, optimistic, popular, talkative and trusting. The emotion associated with the core I style is optimism. They tend to see the positives in every situation and may lack objectivity or overestimate their abilities or the ability of others. They fear social rejection. They have a need to interact with others and want to enjoy “the experience”.

Under stress the I style my be self-promoting, overly optimistic, gabby and unrealistic.

The ideal environment for the I style includes assignments with a high degree of people contact, tasks involving motivating groups and establishing a network of contacts, democratic supervisors with whom they can associate, freedom from control and detail, freedom of movement and multi-changing work tasks.

The Steady or Supporter Style (S factor):

People whose cores style is the Steady style are described as amicable, friendly, good listeners, patient, predictable, sincere, stable, steady, systematic, team players and understanding. The emotion for the S style is actually non-emotion. You don’t want to get in a poker game with this style! They fear loss of security, need to serve others and are looking to create secure/stable environment. The S style will yield to avoid controversy, has difficulty establishing priorities, dislikes change and has difficulty dealing with diverse situations.

Under stress the S style may be non-demonstrative, unconcerned, hesitant and inflexible.

The ideal environment for the S style is where standards and methods have been established, long standing relationships can be, or are, developed, personal attention and recognition for tasks well done exists, a stable and predictable work environment is the norm, adequate time for change is a part of the change and people can be dealt with on a more personal, intimate basis.

The Compliant or Thinker Style (C factor):

People whose core style is the Compliant style are described as accurate, analytical, conscientious, courteous, diplomatic, fact-finding, holds high standards, mature, patient, precise, restrained and systematic. The emotion for the C style is fear. They fear criticism of their work. They need procedures to follow and are always looking for proof and evidence before acting. The C style may be defensive when criticized, get bogged down in details, be overly intense for the situation and appear somewhat aloof and cool.

Under stress the C style may be pessimistic, picky, fussy or overly critical.

The ideal environment for the C style is where critical thinking is needed and rewarded, assignment can be followed through to completion without distractions, work is technical or task-oriented in a specialized area, noise and people-interactions are at a minimum, close relationships with a small group of people and quality and/or standards are important.

So, what is your core style? How about those you work with daily? Which of the above best describes them? What might that suggest about how they want to receive communications?

Our most successful strategy for organization-wide implementation of the Dynamic Communication for Maximum Engagement and Collaboration starts with two key stakeholders experiencing the workshop first: the executive management team and the HR team. This can be done as one workshop or two. Once senior management and HR experience this program for their own benefit, they are able to communicate its value throughout the organization.

Dynamic Communication WorkshopAbout the Dynamic Communication for Maximum Engagement and Collaboration Workshop

This program was designed to help people win and to achieve a greater degree of success in life and work. Achievers throughout history have had one thing in common – they know themselves. Achievers don’t underestimate what they can do. They don’t sell themselves short. They know their own limitations and, by realizing their weaknesses, are able to develop plans to overcome their shortcomings and take full advantage of their strengths.

The standard workshop format is a full-day, highly interactive program that includes a workbook, an extensive behavioral and motivators personality assessment and report for each participant. The workbook becomes a great reference manual. The program objectives for participants are to understand the benefits of applying a behavioral communication model, understand their own behavioral design, recognize, understand and appreciate others’ behavioral designs, learn how best to adapt for enhanced communication, understanding and relationships and be able to comfortably read all four cores styles based on observation of tone of voice, words used, body language and pace.

Variations on the Workshop are Extremely Effective

Every client is different. We carry a large arsenal of exercises that allow us to customize the workshop to address very specific needs. We never take a one-dimensional approach. We ensure the workshop time is valued by individuals, teams and executives as addressing several areas and having multiple benefits.

  • For consulting teams as a competitive differentiator: Communicating Dynamically for Maximum Client Engagement and Project Success
  • For leadership teams: Dynamic Communication for Leaders (half-day) or Leader as Empowering Coach (a two-day workshop)
  • For cross-functional teams: Dynamic Communication for Cross-Functional Collaboration
  • For new teams assigned to project startup: Dynamic Collaboration for Project Success
  • For new hire orientation (immersion into a collaboration culture): Dynamic Communication for Personal Success

Participant Testimonials

  • “Very effective seminar. I wish we could have gone longer. The program made me want to know more. I would like to have your presence in another meeting with staff. Thanks Carl for a very interesting time!”  “Evaluation of workshop: Interesting, polished, food for thought, instructive, helpful, worthwhile – knowledgeable instructor.”
  • “Nice variation of activities. Definitely worth the investment of a day. Nice to have a whole team involved and offsite. I enjoyed seeing [everyone] enjoy themselves and learn.”
  • Excellent.
  • “Very enlightening, my new understanding of attitudes behavioral styles came on one day. I see the world differently now.”
  • “Extremely informative and insightful of how people interact and behave around one another. Well done!”
  • “I enjoyed this workshop. I felt it gave an unbiased look into yourself, your perception as well as other individuals’ perceptions.”
  • “The workshop validated some of the self image I had and enlightened me to a few I had not identified.”
  • “Very informative!”
  • “Surprised at the accuracy of the tool.”
  • From a high “D” style: “The team feedback on the workshop was that it was very good and enlightening. [Manager 1] and [Manager 2] commented to me how impressed they were in the accuracy of the personal assessment and the exercises provided them. I also received comments on the value of having all 3 teams attend from both locations, the opportunity of getting to know everyone better from the dinner and workshop, and ways of working together more effectively. Thanks for including us!” from a cross-functional senior executive.
  • From a high “I” style, non-manager team member: “I gotta tell ya, going into yesterday’s workshop I was very skeptical. The last workshop we had really didn’t do anything for me and based on that I honestly thought yesterday was going to be a waste of time. Man was I wrong. The techniques presented were really cool and my personal report was so accurate it gave me chills. I enjoyed the day and came away with some real good stuff. Thanks for the invite!”
  • From a high “S” style: “Enjoyable, worthwhile, excellent.”
  • From a high “C” style: “It was interesting learning about other styles so that I can be more effective in dealing with them.”
  • “Receiving profiles were very enlightening and it was amazing to see how on target the analysis was.”
  • “I think the workshop was extremely beneficial to understanding individual styles which ultimately will assist us with creating more productive working relationships.”
  • “This workshop was very enlightening. Everyone needs to have a mirror put up to their face and really get a good look. “
  • “The workshop was very informative. It was like hitting a brick wall. An individual has a general idea of the type of person they are but it doesn’t seem to sink in until you have concrete evidence. “

Carl Nielson is a certified professional behavioral analyst and has delivered hundreds of workshops for groups as small as 8 and up to 100. He can be reached at 972.346.2892. Email your questions to Carl at cnielson@nielsongroup.comConnect with Carl on LinkedIn.

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