As a team leader, I sometimes find myself in a situation where I have to communicate a decision to my team. Here are some key principles that I a guide myself by when I do this.
Do it as early as it makes sense
Timing is one of the most important things to me. If my team find out about the “news” from somewhere else, their trust in me is likely to be shaken. I am there to look after them and to be their voice in the conversations that have an impact on them. The sooner I can do that, the more I can help them.
Give a quick rundown of what will be covered
At the beginning of the discussion I try to clarify what I will talk about. This provides not just structure, but it may prevent questions that would be answered anyway. At the same time, it enables everyone to write down any questions that I may have overlooked in my FAQ.
Ideally, the agenda should be sent with the meeting invite, but sometimes this is just not possible.
The reality is that not everyone reads their emails. If these emails contain business speak, are too lengthy, or come from a source that is too far away in the organisation, then it’s possible that people will just skim the message and not retain too much information.
The first part of the discussion should definitely include a quick recap of what has been going on, to bring everyone up to speed.
Stay honest, genuine, natural
I have seen so many people try to become somebody they are not during a presentation. Their pitch or tone would change. Their body language would be awkward. Their hand gestures would be unnatural. I try my hardest not to be one of these people.
Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
I feel like being genuine helps reassure people that I am being honest. Even if the point of the meeting is to “sell” to the team something that they might not be too happy about, it’s still important that my tone is affiliative.
Give just the right amount of information
One very important aspect is finding the right balance between getting lost in the details (overwhelming the team with too much information) and being too vague about what the decision really entails.
Go through a FAQ
I try to think ahead of the questions that the team might have. Putting myself in their shoes is good for several reasons:
- helps me prepare for the meeting
- contributes to the decision of how much should be communicated
- keeps me honest
- prevents the piling up of answers such as “I don’t know”, and “I’ll get back to you”
I am a strong believer in the power of an honest “I don’t know”. Realistically, if the truth is that I don’t know, then anything else I would say is BS. I respect my team too much to reply with a political, or vague answer. It’s also very likely that the answer will be important to me too.
Thank and close
When closing, it’s important to remind people that the communication channel is still open. Some people are introverts, or simply not comfortable asking questions in front of their peers. Others prefer to communicate in writing. Their voices are equally important therefore they need to know that they can follow-up with me.