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Communication Is the Key in the Workplace. Here’s How to Improve.

Goal Setting
Meetings
Internal Communication
Strategy
Juniors

18 January, 2022

Joëlle Gernez
Joëlle Gernez

Vice President, Engineering at Pinger

Joëlle Gernez, Vice President, Engineering at Pinger, shares how she built great relationships with her direct reports and broke the vicious cycle of poor one-on-one meetings.

Poor Communication at Workplace

It’s easy to fall into the trap of making one-on-one meetings as a status update on various projects.

In my opinion, it is wasteful. The objective I had set for my direct reports was to mentor, or coach them. It was important to mentor my direct reports on how to conduct an effective one-on-one because in that way they would know the correct way of doing so with their own direct reports; instead of running an ineffective cycle. I wanted those meetings to be more centered towards personal and professional development.

How to Break the “Status Update” Cycle:

Run Staff Meetings:

Similarly,, the updates on various projects would take away half of the time from the staff meeting, which is another waste of time. Instead, we wanted to leverage that time to solve other issues.

Provide Different Forums for Status Updates:

I created a shared document, where everyone could write down their updates. Before every meeting, we gave everyone about 10 - 15 minutes to go through the document. Followed by that, we would ask questions to anyone, if they had any, or solve any problems they would see in the document. That was a faster way to get done with the processes.

Focus on Improving Person-to-Person Communication:

I enrolled the whole team in a behavioral training using Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness (DISC) assessment. In that way, people could understand and communicate with each other better, as they were able to share their DISC profile.

I also led by example and welcomed constructive feedback from my direct reports. Every 2 - 3 one-on-one meeting, I would ask them if they had any feedback for me as their manager. In order to evolve as a manager, and keep growing in my career, I had to adjust to that person. While the DISC assessment helped me identify what the other person’s personality is like, it also enabled me to adjust my communication style with that person.

Create Goals and Objectives on a Quarterly Basis:

In order for me to not micromanage, I set expectations for my team members on a quarterly basis. We did not want to talk about everything a person was doing, but what we could talk about instead was what was preventing them from achieving those goals. This brought us back to square one: instead of providing updates on everything, it was more about solving problems.

My idea behind all of this was to formalize all the steps, so that people could have a reference as a manager or even as a report. I wanted to create a platform where everyone could talk about emotions, feedback, and so on. Psychological safety is all we need to engage with one another.

Lessons learned

  • It’s okay to show vulnerability. If the culture of the company doesn’t let you do that, then it becomes a concern.

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