By Gary Turner, Turner Consulting
Relationships Were Strained
The human resources manager of a large company contacted me when her department experienced an influx of complaints coming from the firm's administrative team. The HR manager suspected that the complaints, which were mostly interpersonal in nature, were the result of recent organizational changes. In just 12 months, productivity had dropped, job satisfaction was at an all-time low, and relationships were strained. The human resources department was overwhelmed with the number of complaints and the failed attempts to improve the situation. The manager of the administrative team was equally frustrated.
Diagnosing the Cause of the Problem
Recognizing these symptoms from past training experience, I recommended to the client that they administer What's My Communication Style? as a diagnostic tool and starting point for intervention. The 24-item online assessment identifies personal communication style, and in this case, was used to profile the mix of styles within the administrative team.
What's My Communication Style? also gave individuals a practical tool for learning how to better adapt style to improve communication and relationships with their peers. As expected, the assessment results confirmed that the team was made up of a variety of communication styles. But one metric stood out as a possible cause for the team's low morale and resulting decrease in productivity.
What's My Communication Style? revealed that while the team scored slightly above average in the "direct," "considerate," and "systematic" styles, it scored dangerously low in the "spirited" dimension. Individuals who score at the average level or above in the spirited style tend to be enthusiastic, focus on the big picture, build alliances, and prefer to work with other people. However, a low spirited score is typically indicative of individuals who are competitive, resistant to change, and terse with others. These personality characteristics were in-line with the behavior that the human resources team observed among the administrative team.
Using this insight, I developed a training session targeted at addressing the trouble spots and challenges teams face when the Spirited style is underdeveloped. I coupled that with individual coaching sessions focused on reducing competitive behavior and helping the team work together more collaboratively. In addition, I paid particular attention to "flexing"ÃƒÂ¢€Ã¢€Âthe ability to adapt one's dominant style to better communicate and interact with others.
Team Harmony and Increased Job Satisfaction
There was an immediate improvement in productivity for both the administrative and human resource teams following the intervention. Within just three months, the human resources team reported a 90% drop in the number of administrative team complaints. And unlike before, no one on the administrative team has applied for an internal transfer to a different function. The overall result was a win for both teams. Not only did the administrative team improve its job satisfaction, productivity, and morale, but the human resources team is now able to focus its efforts in other areas.
Gary Turner is an award-winning trainer and consultant with more than 30 years of professional experience with major corporations such as M&M Mars, Aramark, and AT&T. His diverse area of expertise includes consulting on leadership, team development, organizational improvement, communication, conflict management, and collaboration.