For product developers in a Business to Business (B2B) space, it’s easy to lose sight of how the solution being implemented will bring benefit to the end customer. Many of our teams have no direct contact with the consumer and don’t see the benefits their solutions bring to people’s lives firsthand. Hence, it’s up to us as leaders to communicate effectively to inspire creativity and innovation. Granted, this isn’t always easy – but here are some top tips to help you along:
Authentic communication is vital in creating effective relationships and building trust, which will help draw the best thinking out of any team. Being authentic means being honest, transparent and living and breathing the values you espouse – people are quick to see through any inauthentic communication.
One way to demonstrate authenticity when delivering messages to your team is to communicate in line with your company’s values. At Intelematics, our core values are collaboration, accountability, excellence, integrity and opportunity – if we do our best to follow these values, we’re well on the way to being authentic and effective communicators.
Always communicate the ‘why’
We’re all busy, and it’s easy to cut corners when communicating with our teams. In our industry, we’re generally pretty good at communicating what the problem is, but we have a tendency to skimp on explaining the ‘why’ behind a problem. But it’s essential that we don’t skip over the ‘why’. We need to clearly explain why we’re developing the solution, by clearly defining what the problem is, and equally as importantly – what it isn’t. We can make sure we’re always doing this by following the ‘Golden Circle’ framework – which suggests we prioritise communicating the ‘why’; a core belief, or reason for existence.
Consider your audience and put yourself in their shoes
The number one question that every audience member asks themselves when attending a meeting or sitting through a presentation is ‘what’s in it for me?’ When briefing your team on a new initiative, consider what motivates and inspires them, and appeal to that. Think about how bringing their best work to a new solution benefits them beyond ‘just doing their job’. Again, teams who truly care about the problem they’re trying to solve will bring their best thinking to developing a solution.
Be humble and take the time to listen
The best leaders take their egos out of the equation when communicating with their teams. Being humble when communicating is often about listening just as much as speaking. It’s about listening to digest what is being said to you, rather than just listening to prepare a response. As leaders, when communicating a problem, we should come to our teams with a ‘strawman’ solution – but then expect that they build on that solution to be far better than our original thinking. It takes humility to empower teams to make this happen.
As leaders in a technical industry that values logic and practicality above all else, we often forget the importance of ‘soft skills’, particularly communication. If we place a higher value on these skills, it will serve to benefit not only the culture within our organisations but will ensure we’re developing the best possible solutions for our customers.