Future of Work Skill – Intentional Communication.

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In the second part of my future skills series we are going to be talking about intentional communication. As many of us have realized the way that we used to work is unlikely to go back to what we used to know, with 72% of companies believing that they offer a hybrid working style post pandemic.

With this, we need to have much more intentional communication with people in different places, at different times to make sure the right message is delivered at the right time, which is a skill that needs to be developed.

Firstly lets take a look at how communication has changed during the pandemic. We have changed from newsletters and town hall meetings to more distributed and personalized communication. Leaders have realized the need to adapt their communication at a time there is great anxiety and uncertainty. We have had to increase our wellbeing check ins and daily team check ins to feel connected to one another. Without seeing people and being able to sense a change in their behavior or energy, we have had to harness our emotional intelligence for better communication and relationships. We’ve had to change our team building and onboarding of new team members to be virtual and make more of a conscious effort to check in and be available. We’ve had to communicate more regularly with changing business decisions whether that is continuing to work from home, furlough, redundancy, changing business focus, business performance to name a few – things have changed frequently and we’ve had to be agile with our response and how we communicate that quickly and confidently.

So now what? How is our communication going to change for the future?

The Social Leadership

76% of people said their trust in leadership increased during the pandemic because of more frequent communications around business updates, check ins and more, so team members are going to expect this going forward. No longer will employees accept just newsletters signed off by the CEO, they will expect their leaders to be more social and personal in their communication, and they will expect more regular sharing of information. No longer will just positional authority be enough but authority and leadership will underpinned on what is created and shared. Mindset, skills and behaviour will be key for leadership positions to create engagement and collaboration across businesses.

Emotional Intelligent Communication

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We’ve had to be extra sensitive with our communication during the pandemic with heightened compassion to how our team members are feeling and how a message will be received. Leaders will need to continue to strengthen their emotional intelligence especially with their communication; they need to be more intentional with the format of a message, the time, the right platform; whether that is how you deliver feedback to you team member, how you capture different audiences, how you communicate important business updates, emotional intelligence will need to be applied. Even from a diversity and inclusion standpoint which has become a huge focus for businesses this, you will need to think about how do we make sure that everyone receives communication in a way that is suitable for them?

Alignment of People and Organization

The pandemic highlighted the importance of being aligned to company values. Employees will remember how the business responded to the pandemic and how they treated their team members, their clients and how they tried to help the wider community. From looking at how you recruit and onboard your new starters to be aligned with the company to how you make business decisions that align with your values, this is going to be fundamental with your communication and how you ensure your team is engaged with the business and its purpose.

Multiple Communication Flows

With the likelihood that there will be different team members in multi places, we need to be intentional about how we communicate with one another; downwards, upwards, horizontally, and diagonally. What needs to be thought about is how do you communicate across these multidirectional flows from delivering a message downwards, ensuring employees can make suggestions, facilitating peer to peer communication and knowledge sharing.

Diagonal or multi-directional communication, using all of these different flows of communication including upward, downward, and horizontal can only work when there are clear platforms and expectations of communication for all team members.

Trust and Transparency

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Transparency and trust during the pandemic have been pivotal and has either increased trust in leadership or damaged it. Moving forward employees are going to expect that leaders are more transparent with their communication. Looking at the future of the workforce, Generation Z expect transparency. They have been raised to question fake news, expect transparency with brands and use brands that align with their values, so transparency is going to be non-negotiable. And with transparency there will be trust.

Communication across a talent eco-systems

The pandemic has forced us to recognize that out talent eco-system is changing. Rather than managing only the internal workforce in an office, companies have realised they can establish and manage an extended talent ecosystem, comprising multiple talent pools and spanning multiple generations allowing greater access to skilled talent, reducing costs, flatten organization structures, meet changing generational expectations and use technology platforms that seamlessly link talent to tasks. So, what really needs to be considered is how you capture all these audiences and communicate with them. The future of work will be less about “using” technology, and more about “interacting” with technology, and the challenge for businesses is managing multiple talent pools in an integrated way.

Communication for knowledge sharing

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With the likelihood of our team members not being in the same place at the same time, we need to think about how we share knowledge, whether that is skills sharing or client updates, we need to be considered about who we share our knowledge with. At the moment, the majority of businesses are all remote so in some respects it is easier – you can all jump on a call but what about when you have some team members who are remote and some in the office. How do you capture those you can’t just walk up to their desk and tell them something? How do you capture junior team members who learn by overhearing in the office? All these knowledge sharing instances need to be thought about.

The pandemic has allowed us to start to develop this skill, and has been, and will continue to be, a learning experience and a skill we are developing as leaders, team members and employees. But what we can do is make sure we have the right feedback loops in place so that we can evolve and adapt as businesses. Being intentional with our communication is going to be huge and more so now that ever. So hopefully discussing some of these areas have helped you with some considerations about your communication now and moving forward.

Part 1 – Listening