- On January 30, 2017
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Whether you’re a solopreneur or manage a small team, communication is vital to the sustainability and profitability of your business. It can be lonely being an owner-manager, even when you have employees. You may feel like no one actually understands the issues you face on a day to day basis and when asked ‘how’s business?’ you shy away from really answering the question. Establishing a strong team around you and learning to communicate with them effectively will help greatly and has the added benefit of fostering a happier workplace.
Establish a ‘board of directors’
One of the most important things you can do when you work for yourself is to establish a ‘board of directors’. This is a group of people whom you trust and have regular contact with who can help you grow your business by listening to your ideas, providing advice and even their own skills. It’s important to choose:-
- People who you can talk to and who are supportive of you and your business;
- People who will hold you accountable to the actions and goals you have put in place;
- People/associates who complement your strengths
Your ‘board of directors’ are an invaluable asset to you and your business and provide support and inspiration when times are tough and when success is more forthcoming.
Create strong relationships with your team
The best way to create and maintain strong relationships with your team is to really listen to what they have to say. When you are in conversation with a colleague, (or a fellow networker, or potential client for that matter), if you want someone to know you are interested in what they have to say, hearing their words is not enough. You have to ‘actively listen’. That means you need to show them you are listening and value their contribution.
These 7 easy tips to show people you are listening may seem pretty obvious when you read them – but start practising them and you will more easily build rapport, trust and create mutual respect.
- Look at someone if they are talking to you – don’t get distracted by anything else or anyone else in the room.
- Nod your head or make the odd ‘hmm’ to let them know they still have your attention.
- Let your body language let them know you are interested. If you tend to interrupt, sit back in your chair so it doesn’t look like you are just waiting to interject, or sit forward if you tend to get distracted – it will narrow the view around you!
- Paraphrase back to them what they have just said as proof you have listened and to make sure you have understood.
- If you want to know more or need clarification, ask open questions starting with what, how or when to encourage them to say more.
- Don’t end their sentences – you could get it wrong and miss some vital information.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Some of the most vital information comes out when time is given to reflect and consider a response.
Share your Business Vision
Those who know me know that I can’t stress enough the importance of having a business vision. Once you are clear on where you are heading, it is important that you communicate your vision with those who can help you make it happen, the people who make up your team. They may be your direct employees, your outsourcing team (your accountant or marketing consultant) as well as your family and friends.
Many keep their vision a secret. Why? Don’t be afraid to share your vision as once you start talking about it, you will inspire action from within and from others and it will start to happen. By the way, don’t waste your time and energy sharing your vision with those who cannot be positive, they will drain you of valuable energy and create doubt in your mind. Ditch the negative nellies!
Instead, use your board of directors and your staff – if you have selected well, they will have skills, knowledge and natural talent to complement yours so use them.
Open up communication channels
The way you do this depends upon the size and culture of your company, and your leadership style. You need to invite feedback, listen and try what could work. This way your team will know their contribution matters and they will be more inspired to help you achieve your goals.
Be aware of your leadership style, it may not get the best from all your staff, and it is your responsibility as a leader to get the best from them. So you will need to be flexible and to individualise your approach for each team member to get them to open up and feel engaged. You will then create an open environment enabling them to make their best contribution to the success of your business.