Employees receive a lot of information every hour of every day. But most of it is just noise that doesn't fulfill their most basic communication needs: to have things put into context, have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments, and feel that someone cares about how they are affected. That's where you come in.
And that's why that your most important role as manager is to translate information to answer team members' essential questions: "What does this mean to me?" and "What do I need to do differently?"
By providing your team with the context they want most, you will help them focus on what's important--instead of wasting time trying to figure out what information means to them.
Follow these 5 steps to translate information in a way that is meaningful to your team:
Step 1: Gain knowledge and understanding
To successfully translate information for your team, you need to learn all there is to know about the topic. Access available materials (meeting content, talking points, PowerPoint presentations, etc.). Take time to discuss the information with your manager and/or peers; this dialogue will help you further define what the information means to you and your group.
Step 2: Think about how the issue affects you
Before communicating with your team, start by thinking about how the information affects you. By doing so, you're giving yourself a chance to assess and address your own situation, instead of having your feelings influence your communications with your team.
Step 3: Create a communication strategy
Plan how you will share and interpret the information for your team. You can't expect to get your team from A to Z in one conversation. Instead, plan multiple conversations, breaking the information into small chunks that are reasonable to expect your team to understand. In advance, anticipate the questions they might have so you are prepared to answer them.
Step 4: Create content
Communicate, answering these types of questions:
- How will this information affect my group/team?
- How will it affect individuals on my team?
- What are the next expectations?
- How will we do this (process, measurement, roles)?
Step 5: Hold an in-person conversation
To create understanding, you'll need to conduct in-person or virtual meetings with your team. Adults learn through dialogue; by asking questions and challenging assumptions, they gain clarification and get involved. Create a two-way exchange by building an agenda that is 50% presentation and 50% discussion. Allow plenty of time for questions, and be prepared to be patient; team members won't necessarily understand the issue right away.