Confident communication increases profit
Customer Service skills
How to listen so people talk....
"Some of the team members will do anything to avoid talking on the phone. Things which could be sorted In a few mins on the phone are taking an age with back and forth emails. I fear it’s affecting productivity.
There’s no real rapport with the customers, it’s all over messages. I am concerned that there is no relationship developing which is potentially compromising customer loyalty, which is shaky as it is in this business climate".
You are probably aware of the term Millenials. The term used to describe the under 40s in the current workforce. Also known as Generation Y. It's a familiar expression and in danger of being overused, and has some negative connotations which are not entirely fair BUT we can't deny that there is an issue and it brings with it real challenges AND opportunities for many businesses which need to be addressed proactively. Greater understanding of the issues can create a bridge between the different generations working for your company and I would like to be that catalyst for transformation in your company.
Millenials are generally said to have been born between 1980 and 2000. And equate to roughly half of the UK workforce. Not something you can ignore. So this could apply to your staff ranging from age 17 to just under 40. Personally I feel the issues above relate more to those under 30, as the technological changes have affected them more.
Increasingly I am hearing that people literally don’t want to answer their phone. They would much rather text, or use snapchat, twitter or messenger.
This has knock on effects for businesses. While it’s called ‘social media’ it’s actually created for some people an ‘anti social culture’ in their organisations.
It can also split the work force – those who have embraced social media and those who refuse to.
This is perhaps not age limited, there’s a lot of people over 60 who are very comfortable with some basic social media, such as facebook and twitter, but it generally seen as a young/old divide.
Neither ‘side’ have much tolerance for the other. It’s quite polarised. And can really raise everyone’s stress levels and anxiety, the less tech savvy feeling disrespect from the others and the smart phone brigade feeling the old fuddy duddies should get more with the times, or get off their backs.
Many people are very good at messaging and responding. Even the older workforce may have got into the habit of messaging. There are a lot of benefits – you can do it on your terms, ‘think before you speak’, edit responses, present yourself in the best possible light and generally feel better about yourself. Until that is, you don’t get a like on your latest insta, twitter or fb post and feel ignored and consider taking it down, or that new contact doesn’t respond to your fb direct message– did they get it? Yes I can see they did! Why haven’t they responded? Or perhaps ‘they must have seen my four missed calls, can’t they tell it’s urgent’……
BUT there is an element missing, they never have to discuss. Time is of the essence. Everyone is hurrying, there might be character limits or data issues and everything is kept brief. Even words themselves are abbreviated out of comprehension in many cases.
While things are going well and there are no misunderstandings, everything works. However, we all know that messaging is fraught with problems, partly because the facial expression and tone are not present, although emojis do go some way to assist here. I guess that’s why they are so popular. And so misunderstandings crop up. And in the work place, these issues can cause problems within departments as well as causing major headaches for managers and team leaders when they try to resolve the issue. Because, due to the lack of communication confidence which some people have, the conversation is likely to be met with awkward silence or at best mumbled ‘it’s fine’, even when it’s not fine and getting more background about the presenting or perceived problem is like getting blood out of a stone.
Frustration kicks in, and the other staff, who are more used to the ways of the office, who are generally towing the line, might observe this conflict and watch with interest to see how it pans out. This is a major problem if the leader ‘fails’ to bring the unconfident team member on side. Respect for the leader may diminish, and knowing this, and perhaps panicking, the leader might show their frustration in the manner a parent might with a child. This might be recognised as Transactional Analysis for anyone with an ‘old school’ management background. Unfortunately the child knows what to do here and simply retreats (or gets very angry) and feels misunderstood and perhaps sulks. Ruining the working atmosphere. No one wins.
In this scenario the fault for the issues is often, perhaps unfairly, laid at the foot of the millennial but that is not necessarily the case, and doesn’t really solve the problem, in fact it probably exacerbates it. These people are often highly intelligent, more questioning, able to multi task and have a lot to offer.
So there are two main opportunities and solutions which present themselves here and both are equally important.
If you would like to discuss whether I might be able to help your business with this, you could email me (email@example.com)
and we can arrange to have a phone conversation initially, followed by my visiting your place of work if you want to progress it further, with a no obligation meeting.
Let me give you one example of how you can turn things around.
Let’s take the question WHY.
This is loaded with subtext isn’t it? For anyone over the age 50, if they ever asked this as a child, other than a cuff around the ear, and a reprimand for being impertinent, they are likely to have heard ‘because I told you so’.
By the time they got into the workforce, they knew better than to ask. They might still WANT to ask it but will probably let off steam at the water cooler/office kitchen and complain to their colleagues about a task in which they could see no point. They may at this point be given some extra context which then makes sense. Or perhaps not. But they would have to be very bold to ask ‘why’.
This new generation of workers ask this as a default reaction to any request. There is no malice, no intended disrespecting. It’s just what they’ve always done, been encouraged BY THEIR PARENTS (the ones who were told ‘because I told you so’). But handling it can cause a headache for the person on the receiving end of a ‘why’.
The thing is, this is not an unreasonable question. If you take the implication that it’s insubordination out of the equation, it makes sense for someone to know the reason for their next project or task. To see how this fits into the overall scheme of things. What the impact will be of the finished job – be it interdepartmental or within their own team. What the purpose is. This is very important to millennials, to do ‘meaningful work’. Well, you could argue, it’s important to us all but we’ve just got our head down and earnt our salary and switched off at the end of the day.
Perhaps the Millenials are just doing and saying what we’ve always felt but not had the guts (or conditioning) to do? Surely we should all know why we are doing something?
The context is vital, it helps determine the level of priority, the level of effort – not everything needs to be done to 100%, ‘good enough’ is sometimes better. Perhaps there are better ways of getting to the outcome, simpler ideas which we’ve never thought of?
So this has important knock on effects for leaders and managers. And how they present the information. A lot of thought is needed to start with, to reframe the request and give it in the way which is most likely to generate proper discussion, understanding (therefore less errors in completion) and perhaps even better routes to the solution (if wanted). Let’s face it, sometimes you just want the job done and you need to be able to make that clear too, without causing offence. In time this approach becomes second natureas the results speak for themselves. And it will transform the atmosphere within your company, increase the ‘company spirit’ and ignite your productivity.
If you want to talk to me about helping your staff avoid their communication getting ‘lost in transmission’, please call me – or email initially, if you prefer (!) and we can have a chat on the phone, and then perhaps a face to face meeting on your site to discuss the options, your exact situations, your budget and your desired outcomes. I am excited at the prospect of bringing my experiences into your business. Really hope to hear from you.
Making life a bit easier, making 'real time' communication comfortable & effective
Train your team in ‘The Dark Arts’ of Dialogue!
It seems to me that there are a few communication stumbling blocks which are not addressed by messaging. The ‘missing links’ you could call them. So you put a message out there. You get a response. Perhaps the person did not address all the issues in your original message, but what they’ve said is workable and you proceed. Only to find that the areas which they conveniently didn’t address are the things which become the deal breaker. Again.
So what do you do? You can’t send a message back saying ‘ can you please address all the issues in this email, especially 2.3’ as that looks picky and awkward. So you stumble on.
If only there was another way? A super power perhaps? where you could practically see inside their head? Know what they were thinking, find out what their issues are, what their doubts might be about progressing the contract? Well of course, you know what I am going to say? No, not that we should all become empaths, (although that might be interesting) but that we could actually, you know, talk to people about these issues?
This is not as easy as it sounds. I am not being dramatic here. Conversation and difficult topics have always been fraught with misunderstandings, and that was back in the day when people at least were used to, even if they weren’t very good at it, talking to everyone they met.
That is not the case now. Many people do not have those discussion skills, the experience of seeing them in action or the confidence that they will work. So building blocks need to be put in place to enable your team to do the best they can for your company, and for their life in general.
If you would like to talk to me about your concerns or situations you have witnessed in your company I would love to hear from you