Sunday, June 14, 2009

Office Politics Vs. Good Communication Skills

What happens if our employees aren’t getting along? Result: high employee turnover and reduced productivity, resulting in reduced profitability. Office Politics is really just another word for the incompatibility of its employees. Cohesiveness, understanding, and appreciating others along with a strong business sense is what drives a company's success. However, what drives office politics are conflict, poor communication, and stress and job dissatisfaction. So what's the solution? Increase the employees' communication skills.

Whenever one is seeking to acquire a new skill or improve in some way, it's critical that one knows what their baseline is. For example, if you decide to run a marathon, where do you start? Are you a walker? Have you been running consistently already? Have you run previous marathons? These questions are crucial when planning a training schedule. Similarly in a work environment, what are the behaviors of your employees? And wouldn't you like to know what you're working with beforehand? Psychological Assessments and Integrity testing enable the employer to have a baseline of their potential employee's behavior. Knowing this, the employer can then encourage his employees' strengths and help develop even better communication skills. Some of the strengths or weaknesses -- depending on the perception and positions -- may be whether they're controlling or passive, outgoing and expressive or introverted, predictable, sympathetic or analytical. With these different personality types comes different perceptions, a different way of communicating, and thus misunderstandings which is often the igniter when it comes to office politics. In a nutshell, effective communication is a vital component to running a successful business -- no matter what the business. So what are the two main objectives involved in skillful communication?

  1. You clearly present your message so that it's understood in the correct context.
  2. You understand the intended message conveyed to you.

Along with this, there should be a give and take flow or at least some control depending on the role and relationships of those communicating. When assessing candidates, certain information will help in understanding their strengths and weakness including their communication skills. For instance:

  • Does your employee communicate clearly both orally and in writing?
  • Do they learn new information quickly?
  • Do they ask insightful questions?
  • Are they energetic?
  • Are they social?
  • Can they remain focused for an extended period of time without intervention doing their own thing or do they require a closer watch to help stay focused? Can they see the end result or do they get distracted by minor details or setbacks?
  • Are they controlling? Can they handle it when things don't go according to plan and still be productive?
  • Do they follow through or give up if the task is too tough?
  • Are they competitive? If so, how do they deal with losing or rejection? Have they developed emotional toughness?

It's obvious that good communication skills are necessary to thrive in life -- whether in business or just in general interaction with others. To be effective in business, you must communicate well, and to be a good boss -- you have to communicate remarkably well and employees generally view good managers as those who can communicate with them. The majority of failures in business are not really business failures, but rather, people failures.

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