As a manager, you know that effective communication is crucial to the success of your team. But how do you communicate effectively when working with different Myers and Briggs personality types? Maybe you have a Feeler who needs reassurance when starting a new project, or a Thinker-Judger who thrives on autonomous tasks and is a bit reluctant to ask for help.
If you’re looking to improve your communication, understanding each person’s personality could help you get your message across and set the tone for the rest of the team. If you’ve been struggling with team communication lately, this article is for you. Read on to learn how to communicate effectively with your team, based on personality type.
Effective communication in the workplace: why is it important?
We tend to think of communicating as simply sharing information, but there’s more to it than that. Effective communication is about creating connections and maintaining relationships with your team, colleagues and clients. It requires practice and patience.
First, it’s essential to know there are different types of communication – verbal, written, non-verbal, and active listening. Depending on your communication style, you likely will rely more heavily on one or two of these communication channels, and so will your team members.
Think of verbal and written communication, for instance. Maybe you express yourself more clearly over the phone than by email, whilst the opposite happens for another person in your team. When you’re aware of that, you can adapt your communication style to bridge the gap.
What’s more, developing communication skills can help you minimize conflict, make more informed decisions, and lead to better job satisfaction among employees – even if you have bad news to share. In fact, according to a 2015 study, over 90% of employees would rather hear bad news than no news at all. Bottom line? Time to improve your communication game!
5 Tips to Communicate Effectively with your Team
1. Listen with empathy
You can’t have effective communication without listening. Listening with empathy means not only hearing what your team members have to say, but paying attention during conversations, without interrupting, and showing that you understand their viewpoint.
Listening with empathy also means understanding your team members’ communication styles. That’s where personality tests tailored for business can be of help; with this new awareness you can adapt your message accordingly, and create a safe environment for everyone to express their ideas, and come up with creative solutions.
Pro tip: Schedule one-on-one meetings to check on your team members. If someone in your team is struggling emotionally, they’ll probably feel safer sharing that in an individual setting.
2. Allow space for creativity
In his book on creativity, John Cleese talks about two thinking modes: closed and open. According to the British comedian, most of us operate in a ‘closed’ thinking mode, one that is rigid and tight. However, Cleese believes creativity happens when you are in an ‘open’ mode, which is more receptive, playful and humorous.
Leaders often want their teams to be creative, but they forget to allow space for creativity to happen. They’re in the closed mode. But how do you change that? Well, you can start by focusing on the why of an idea, instead of jumping to how you believe it has to be executed. That often kills the creative flow.
Additionally, be aware that Intuitive types on your team, like INTPs and ENTPs, thrive in ever-changeable environments. They can be a great asset to your team if you let them operate on "open" and flex those creative muscles.
Pro tip: Create pressure-free brainstorming sessions. If possible, make it offline, and try to move people to a relaxed setting where they can generate new ideas.
3. Provide regular feedback
Providing regular feedback is another important aspect to communicate effectively with your team. No one likes to feel micromanaged at their job, but your team members still need some guidance on their performance and how they can improve.
Personalities like ESTPs and ENTJs appreciate detailed, goal-focused feedback. Still, other types are more sensitive when receiving criticism, so take that into consideration. A good rule of thumb is to answer questions proactively, and state particular actions, rather than critiquing the person as a whole.
Pro tip: When dealing with personality types who are more sensitive to criticism, sandwich your feedback. Instead of just pointing out the negative, compliment them on a couple of things they did right, too.
4. Be clear about tasks
Effective teams work towards a concrete goal. That’s why it’s crucial that you’re clear about tasks, so everyone knows what’s expected of them. This starts with creating a culture of honesty where people feel comfortable asking you for guidance if disoriented.
In addition, make sure you give basic parameters, and a target, and explain why you’re making that decision. Getting the team together to check on progress is also key to addressing specific issues your employees might be facing.
Pro tip: Report any upcoming changes on a project as soon as possible. Traditionalist types, such as XSFJs, and XSTJs sometimes get overwhelmed with the unexpected, so they will appreciate this!
5. Encourage bottom-up communication
Finally, another strategy to improve communication with your team is encouraging bottom-up communication. What feedback do your team members have for you? Whilst some types will be comfortable sharing their opinions with management, Introverts could need a gentle nudge to speak up.
What’s more, personality types that work well alone, such as INTJs and ISTJs, for example, can be reluctant to ask for help when they have too much on their plate. If you reassure them that it’s okay to do so, they’ll be more likely to change.
Pro tip: Proactively ask your team for ideas, and feedback, not only at group meetings, but also during one-on-one sessions and via surveys.
Your role as a leader is to support your team towards success. When you establish a culture of transparency and trust, your employees will feel more encouraged to speak up and engage in the decision-making process. Personality assessment tools designed specifically for the workplace could also help you build healthy communication habits that lead to better results.