Debra Roberts is a self-proclaimed conversation expert, and rightfully so. She developed the “Relationship Protocol Communication Model,” a way of communicating with your employees or loved ones (and everyone in between). She also has a clinical background as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and is both a trauma and business consultant.
Everyone knows that to build a thriving organization, you need a foundation of communication and trust. But building that foundation isn’t as straightforward as one would hope. So, where do you start?
Debra shares that:
- Leaders need to be authentic. Show up as a human being. Be forthright and transparent. Leadership needs to explain what is being faced and share the plan for what to do when things go wrong.
- Leaders need to be honest. When companies know how to communicate from the top down—and your employees can express what they need—it leads to a thriving sense of belonging.
- Acknowledge change is happening: Talk about strategies moving forward and ask for input—then listen and use it to make decisions when possible.
Leaders need to acknowledge their employees
Everyone wants to know they’re part of a bigger system where they matter. They want to have a voice. So when you don’t communicate, even if nothing has changed, people drift. They start to feel like they’re part of a system where no one cares. So make yourself visible. Make sure they see that you’re committed to your people and your organization. Encourage someone to reach out if they’re feeling detached.
Building trust with your employees
I worked at an organization where the existing CEO tried his best—and took memory courses—to remember every single person’s name that he’d met. His company consisted of over 15,000 people!
He remembered not only their names but also personal details about them. He always asked how my kids were. It wasn’t only astounding, but the fact that he took the time to do that increased my level of trust in him. There was no question of my loyalty.
If you’re a leader, you need to acknowledge someone new, interact with them, and ask for their input. Make them feel welcome from day one. Be open to hearing what people have to say.
When you meet someone, take notes about relevant information. Be friendly and say things like, “How can I support you?” and mean it. The most important thing you can do is acknowledge people so they feel like they’re part of the organization.
Ask for suggestions, ask for what people like or dislike, and make adjustments as you go. It’s about listening to hear what others need and how you can support them.
Navigate change by building relationships first
People feel threatened when someone new comes onto the scene. So when that new person spends their time listening and learning without immediately enacting change, they become less threatening. Taking the time to get to know people and build relationships is how you build trust. It starts from the very first interaction.
But what do you do when you’re struggling to communicate? What if you feel like an employee just isn’t listening? Debra shares how you can navigate difficult conversations in episode #319 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Check it out!