WIC Accelerator Recap: Effective Communication
Monday, December 9, 2019
Posted by: Abbey Kwiat
“We all face two kinds of expectations—outer expectations (meet work deadlines, answer a request from a friend) and inner expectations (keep a New Year’s resolution, start meditating). Our response to expectations determines our “Tendency”—that is, whether we fit into the category of Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.” --Gretchen Rubin
With just one more session left in the WIC Accelerator, the participants are putting together all of the pieces of what they’ve learned. This week they tackled Effective Communication and the one word that seems to leave us all shaking in our boots… FEEDBACK. Okay. So maybe it’s not quite that scary, but it can be nerve-wracking and feel negative just to hear that you’re going to receive feedback.
Kirsten Ramos, President of Elevate Performance Solutions, led this week’s course on breaking down the main tenets of effective communication in the workplace and helping to get the most out of giving or receiving feedback. This was a fantastic final layer to the courses the participants had already taken including: How to Develop Your Best Professional Self, Professional Development, Managing Teams to Drive Performance, and Negotiation and Career Advancement.
The participants were able to share how they’ve been applying the past sessions to current workplace scenarios. One participant asked her direct report to take the tendencies quiz, which has been a foundation for the accelerator and was surprised at the results. She learned that the employee was an Obliger instead of a Rebel, which led to her changing her communication/management style.
Another had noticed that she’s taken a personal audit of her own communication style. “I can come off as confrontational because I’m asking so many questions,” she noted. She went on to say that her “Questioner status” allowed her to be upfront with her colleagues about why she’s asking questions -- she isn’t questioning their knowledge, she just personally needs to ask questions to feel like she has all of the tools needed to do her job.
Ramos brought the participants back to the root of their courses, reminding them that in a Forbes article, Gretchen Rubin observed that in the workplace there are many differences in communication style and opinion. These should be celebrated and valued.
This resonated with another participant when she had a breakthrough regarding managing a particular team member. By thinking through the tendencies she realized when he repeatedly asked questions, he wasn’t trying to derail the project but “he personally needs to know” the answers before he could begin. She’s adjusted her management style by giving him his own space to ask the questions so it didn’t detract from the meeting.
One participant who is a Rebel noted that she’s probably the person in the room with all of the questions, but it’s not because she’s trying to be contrarian. “Asking for the why is a really important thing… it helps me understand your thought process,” she said.
Letting your supervisors or peers know how you work best can be really important and the group is learning to both ask their employees what works best, but also communicate to their own managers what they need to succeed and grow. Many of them noted that by sharing how you communicate and work and can lead to open conversation about how others work.
Ramos, after letting the participants explore their findings noted to the group, “I knew this would be the part that I loved most, hearing all of you help each other.”
This provided a great segue in a discussion surrounding the benefits of receiving feedback, and around the true courage it takes to give and take feedback. Which led to an insightful exercise on how to do this well. There isn’t a single person at any step of their career who couldn’t benefit from an exercise like this!
Looking back on the Accelerator itself, the participants were channeling bits of each course and meeting into this final exercise and conversation. Despite the different roles, personalities, and tendencies in the room, the outcome seemed to be almost unanimous. Women, working together to improve themselves and their organizations is an exciting movement to be a part of.
Are you interested in joining our movement, or know someone who might be? Visit us at https://www.illinoistech.org/page/WIC for more information.
Authored by: Erika Gellar (WIC Junior Board Member)