How to Supervise Communication

I often cite statistics that show communication skills are among the top skills employers are looking for in new employees. Another important statistic I have mentioned is that communication skills are also among the skills identified with people who will make good leaders and supervisors. Today, we bring these two ideas together and suggest a way how you can supervise communication.

One Model-Two Purposes

We at Intelligent Communication believe in teaching communication through a single easy to learn and apply model. We call this model Smart Talk. I have explained this model many times before. I’ll provide a short description here. If you are interested in learning more about the model, check out my online training and assessment center.

Smart Talk

Smart Talk Model of Communication
Smart Talk Model

Think and Feel consists of four steps. First, we listen. I mean we really listen. If you follow this blog for long, you will realize how much I emphasize listening. As a supervisor, you should too. The next step is thinking. Thinking is a cognitive process that helps us consider possible meanings of the information we just received. We call these options competing hypotheses. The next step, feeling, is another cognitive process. In this step, we engage our empathy and consider the information from the other person’s point of view. When we use these two steps together, we develop a full understanding of what we see and hear. This enables us to accomplish the final step: plan. In the planning step, we determine how we will respond.The Smart Talk model consists of three parts: (1) the Guideline, (2) Think and Feel, and (3) Say and Do. The Guideline provides us with a path to follow in our interactions with others. This path begins with all we do before the interaction (context and pre-communication). It then steers our conversations towards our desired goal. It also guides us to achieve interim objectives along the way.
The final part of Smart Talk is Say and Do. This is where we apply a variety of relational and communication skills to move the conversation towards our chosen objectives and ultimate goal. All three parts work together. The Guideline provides the path for the other two parts. The Think and Feel cogwheel and the Say and Do cogwheel connect at the Guideline to provide the force necessary to drive the interaction along the Guideline. If we fail to use these of these later parts correctly, our conversation will not progress towards our goal.

Intelligent Supervision

When we use the Smart Talk model to train communication skills, we also establish a common language to supervise communication skills. We can identify specific areas where our team members are having difficulty. We can then provide focused remedial instruction and practical exercises to help them improve.

Supervise with Smart Talk

For example, we participate in a meeting run by one of our team members. The meeting seems to go on aimlessly. The meeting adjourns and you realize that the team accomplished nothing. You can sit down with your team member and ask some key Guideline questions.

  • “What was your goal for that meeting?”
  • “What interim objectives did you create to help you reach that goal?”

You can work through how you would have set a goal and objectives for that meeting. You can later meet with this team member prior to the next meeting they run to review their goal and objectives.

Supervise Sale Pitches

Let’s look at another example. You observe a few pitches made by your sales personnel. They all came across as well prepared. They understood the features and benefits of your company’s products and services.  Finally, they also accurately shared them with potential clients. But, none of these potential clients became customers. You sit down with your sales team and review the Smart Talk model. You show them where they did well.

  • They were prepared (Guideline).
  • They presented the sales pitch clearly and correctly (Say and Do).

You then turn to the Think and Feel part of Smart Talk. You point out that they were not really listening to these potential clients. They were not hearing their needs. They may have worked through the thinking step, but were neglecting the feeling step.  So, you review the following questions with them.

  • Did you really listen to these potential clients?
  • Did you identify their problems and needs?  What were they?
  • Did you take the time to look at the sales pitch from the potential client’s point of view?  What might you have discovered?
  • How will our products and services meet their needs and/or solve their problems?

You can role play a few times with these people prior to their next sales call, practicing listening and feeling.

Practice Like you Play

I have often heard the adage, “You practice like you play.” In professional communication, “You supervise like you train.” You can because you oversee your team members’ communication with the same model you use to train them. If you would like to know more about how Intelligent Communication can help you and your organization become more effective communicators, contact me.
When you supervise, as well as when you communicate, be swift to hear and slow to speak.

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