In a recent meeting, the manager was reviewing results from a Predictive Index Employee Experience survey*. One of the areas the team wanted to improve was regarding open communication.
“I took your advice and used the TED method, and I was surprised at the answers I received!” the manager shared in a recent Leading for Real class* session.
Using TED is a method I teach leaders when they want to dig deeper. So often, we accept surface level answers and start taking action on what we think others mean. This often results in misunderstandings and further frustration. In this case, our manager might have just started sending out more emails. That’s open communication, right?
Instead, he used the TED method. TED is an acronym that reminds us of some tools we can use to dig deeper:
- Tell me more is a great way to encourage someone to expound on an idea. Let’s say you have an employee who says, “I get so aggravated working from home.” We might respond, “I know! I can’t wait until we can get back to normal!” But try saying instead, “Tell me more about what you miss about coming in to the office,” or “Tell me more about what aggravates you.” You will learn more about that employee’s needs, about how they work, and about how you can best support them as their manager. And they will feel valued because you cared enough to ask.
- Explain that to me is a great tool to use when identifying processes or root causes. Managers at one of my manufacturing clients use this tool to understand how problems got started: “Explain to me how you got to this point,” or “Explain the steps you’ve completed so far.”
- Define what you mean is one of my favorite tools to use. When teaching a class, I often display how useful this is by asking people to define the phrase “in a little bit.” I receive answers that people use this term to mean anywhere from a few minutes, by the end of the day, by the end of the week, when I get around to it, and one brave soul actually admitted that she uses this term hoping that the other person forgets their request and she doesn’t have to complete it!
When our manager asked his team to define what open communication meant to them, they answered with a variety of different responses, ranging from more frequent touch points, providing specific details on a particular client, and using phone calls instead of emails. He is now able to communicate with his team in a way they will best receive it, which will not only enhance his relationships with others, but will benefit his organization as well!
*For information on Predictive Index or Leading for Real classes for your organization, contact jennifer@WithinLeadership.com.