December 7, 2012
Without a doubt, the biggest challenge in any company regardless of its size, is communication – and often times, it starts at the top and works its way down. Human Resources frequently assumes the role of referee or peacekeeper – reassuring employees that comments were not meant in a negative way, and they shouldn’t be overly sensitive. The challenge is a direct result of the murky nature of the problem. “It was meant as a joke; it’s a cultural issue; no one else was offended; it’s their personality; I was just really busy”, are all excuses for employees talking to one another in a manner that is inappropriate or just downright rude.
While there is no simple answer to this dilemma, a good starting point is to ensure that your team understands that we are all different, and the same method of communicating does not work for everyone. We recently conducted a behaviour-based exercise called “Personality Dimensions” with a client’s staff. There are many such assessment tools on the market, one of the best known being the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. In this session we had a lot of fun identifying the different personality styles, but the key “take away” was learning how we need to adapt our method of communicating to the person we are talking to. The same message delivered in the same manner to everyone is not heard the same way.
Has this solved the problem for this client? Not completely. People are still busy, there are still jokers who are not funny, and there are still cultural issues to deal with, but it has made the employees of this particular company far more understanding and therefore tolerant of co-workers behavioural differences. While many companies use assessments for a multitude of reasons, creating a culture where employees can value their differences is a major step in the right direction.