EP 19: What Drives Communication at Work with Amy Stalker

What Drives Communication at Work

The most important part of any type of relationship, but especially work relationships, is the ability to communicate. Amy Stalker is an HR professional and head of Total Rewards who has incredible insight into the best strategies for successful communication and relationship building between all levels of an organization.

You will get some valuable tips on how to communicate effectively and what it takes to truly communicate well with people so they actually understand you. Amy also shares ideas for how executives can communicate better with other levels of the company and discusses why it’s so important to be transparent and allow people to feel valued and able to be open about their questions and issues.

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • What communication really means in terms of the work place. (0:58)
  • How to communicate well and have a personal touch. (2:03)
  • Tips on communicating clearly, using follow up questions and knowing your audience. (5:09)
  • Why it matters less about what you’re communicating and more what people understand. (7:11)
  • How to avoid assumption and how to put yourself in the shoes of the listener. (9:42)
  • How to set boundaries and empower yourself and others to say no. (13:25)

Actionable Takeaway for HR Professionals:

  • Be self-aware of how you’re presenting yourself. (17:50)

Actionable Takeaway for Executives:

  • Be transparent and trust that employees know what they’re doing. (17:12)

Ideas Worth Sharing:

“When you have miscommunication, it could mean a whole ton of things go wrong. When you have great communication, it means a whole ton of things go right.” - Amy Stalker Click To Tweet

“You really have to understand what are your vehicles you use to communicate and who you are communicating to.” - Amy Stalker Click To Tweet

“If we don’t define what those outcomes are and how we measure it, we’re not going to get things done efficiently.” - Amy Stalker Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode:

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Click Here for Audio Transcript

Elevated Talent Consulting: So what drives communication at work and what does HR need to do to really ensure that all levels of the organization have the key pieces that they need to be successful.

Elevated Talent Consulting: So with me today is any stalker and amy is a total rewards expert, and I am thrilled to have you join us on the podcast today amy Thank you Tracy i’m happy to happy to be here.

Elevated Talent Consulting: So communication this really fun topic, what exactly does it mean, so I think communication is a lot of different things.

Elevated Talent Consulting: it’s definitely the interaction between how we operate whether its family whether it’s at work, whether it’s with your friends.

Elevated Talent Consulting: When you have miscommunication it could mean a whole ton of things go wrong when you have great communication, it means a whole ton of things go right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: So for me that’s, the most important part of any relationship or any you know, especially at work.

Elevated Talent Consulting: yeah absolutely and it’s the understanding of Okay, how do we build the trust, so we can really have that open, honest communication.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And it’s, not just on our teams right, but as HR professionals total rewards at many times we’re communicating some really important things.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Like benefits like pay like hey you got a promotion or you didn’t get a promotion.

Elevated Talent Consulting: All of those things so from your experience and and you know, working with really large organizations with this, how do you build that where you still have the personal touch.

Elevated Talent Consulting: yeah I think that’s a great question and it’s one that you get wrong more than you get right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And with years of experience, I think there’s a couple of items number one is what are you communicating are you communicating something that’s difficult or hard to understand benefits would be in that arena.

Elevated Talent Consulting: it’s making sure that you know your audience, who are you communicating to, and how are they going to receive the information.

Elevated Talent Consulting: there’s a myriad of different ways you’re working with multiple generations within an organization.

Elevated Talent Consulting: So just because you put something online doesn’t mean that everybody’s going to grab it or have access to it.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Just because you put something in writing doesn’t mean everybody’s going to open the mail or take a look at it, so you have to really understand what are your vehicles in order to communicate and who you’re communicating to.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And I think the third one is transparency it’s all about telling the truth gaining the trust building that affinity.

Elevated Talent Consulting: To have employees really trust you, I know that there’s a lot of people who look at their employers for their source of information.

Elevated Talent Consulting: it’s not so much necessarily TV or radio or even other people it’s a lot of times it’s the workplace it’s that that’s where they’ve built the trust.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And so you have to continue that and make sure that that people understand what you’re trying to say and how you’re saying it and to be transparent, whether it’s good news.

Elevated Talent Consulting: bad news it doesn’t matter it builds that trust versus just trying to kind of cover over everything and sugar coated, if you will, so it makes communication really difficult and that’s what’s so hard to get.

Elevated Talent Consulting: You know the term to build that skill yeah absolutely and sometimes we feel like we’ve communicated something incredibly well.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And yeah, on the other state, on the other side of it it’s completely missed, I think one of my favorite stories.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And this is a home story amount of work story, but so often, I will take this story and tell it in work situations and.

Elevated Talent Consulting: I have two boys and they were downstairs playing xbox and my oldest son said to my youngest son hey can you make the sky invisible you’re playing fortnight and i’m like okay.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And he says why and Q goes well how do you make the sky invisible anything goes, why do you how do you make this guy invisible why push the button why you know what he’s getting really angry during this.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And it’s like when we think about communication he thought he was asking though most perfectly clear question, and if he understood the answer.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And he’s sitting here going I told you the answer five times, will you just knock it off.

Elevated Talent Consulting: That is an awesome story and it’s one that I think everybody can relate to, and you know, think about that with children and then put that in an adult situation right where.

Elevated Talent Consulting: you’re you can’t overreact you can’t get super upset in a work environment, and so what tends to happen is you fill in the blanks.

Elevated Talent Consulting: We all feel it’s human nature, we all fill in the blanks with what we do know, and then the story turns into something that isn’t even true or was it what was that and it’s like that game of telephone that goes over and over again so it’s so important to be clear.

Elevated Talent Consulting: ask questions back ask if people understand and make them feel comfortable to be able to make sure that you’re that you’re clear and they’re getting it.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And I think that’s another difficult part of being a good communicator because even the best communicators don’t always communicate correctly.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And it’s you know, once you realize it it’s kind of like oh own up to it.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Talk about it and move forward with it, but don’t dwell on it, or you know i’m sure you being in in in you know consulting you get these emails and that’s my favorite of well, I sent out an email, well, I sent out three.

Elevated Talent Consulting: i’m like I get 500 emails a day i’m not reading every single one pick up the phone and call me right it’s that personal connection even it’s just if it’s phone or zoom or teams, or whatever.

Elevated Talent Consulting: gets you so you know it’s it just brings you so much further along than caps in an email you don’t get what people are trying to say you can’t read their non verbals.

Elevated Talent Consulting: pick up the phone where are the days, where are they gone where you just pick up the phone.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Absolutely, and I love that and I mean just today, I had one of my consultants reach out to me and say hey Tracy can you read through these emails from the specific client she’s like I.

Elevated Talent Consulting: I want to make sure i’m answering this correctly and i’m not quite getting it.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And I think sometimes you talked about hey there’s a different modes of communication based on how somebody is wired just their natural wiring right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Are they an individual that’s extroverted things through issues, or are they an individual that’s introverted i’m sorry introverted think through issues extroverted.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Talk through issues right because that’s a huge piece of it and understanding, who you’re talking to but then the other side of it is we’re working in a global economy right now.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And you know this specific client is outside of the United States outside of this continent, and sometimes it’s like there’s language barriers that really come into this.

Elevated Talent Consulting: In and what I loved about her request to me was, I want to make sure that i’m best serving this client and you know that we’re really getting exactly what we need, and you know many times, you know.

Elevated Talent Consulting: will create different sort of filters to say hey we want to make sure that we’re communicating that you can understand it, because it doesn’t matter how well I communicate and matters what you understood like why and why right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: It definitely does and keep in mind, I think you know something that i’ve also learned and something that I, I often tell people who work for me, or even peers is.

Elevated Talent Consulting: It we try to sometimes make ourselves feel better right when we want to give bad news, whatever it may be in the HR field even we try to make ourselves feel better.

Elevated Talent Consulting: versus really is it the what’s best for them, or is it what’s best for the company or the organization and you have to be cognizant of that, and you have to be self aware that we do that as humans.

Elevated Talent Consulting: doesn’t make us bad people by any means, but it’s like you know i’m not really helping that person i’m actually helping myself out.

Elevated Talent Consulting: By softening you know the communication that needs to be had or softening the message which doesn’t do anybody any good.

Elevated Talent Consulting: yeah absolutely absolutely and I think another key thing with communication and you hit on this earlier.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And that is there’s several different modes of communication and making sure that we’re communicating it.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Based on who our audiences really knowing who that audiences, but the other question that I think comes up and I asked this so often is I wonder what’s on their plate I don’t yet know about.

Elevated Talent Consulting: That is a great question um I think you you nailed it right it’s just to say okay What else do you have going on, what else do I not know.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Whatever you want to share, how can I then be of assistance to make sure that where we’re in the right frame of mind to have the right conversation know sometimes you can’t hold off.

Elevated Talent Consulting: No matter where you’re at you know in in life, but I think you’re right by saying, are we okay to have this conversation, and you know what it’s okay for people to raise their hand and say you know what not right now in fact.

Elevated Talent Consulting: at work and with my with my peers, we have code words about you know i’m just not interested right and it’s kind of a joke between all of us.

Elevated Talent Consulting: In different meetings that we’ve been add, I have a Co worker of mine who just says that all the time I just not interested.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And that’s what we say to each other it’s like yeah not interested, and we all know what that means is okay i’m going to come back at that at a later time.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Right absolutely because that I wonder what else is on their plate that I don’t yet know about and then being able to say you know what there’s something here i’m not ready to talk about what’s here.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Sometimes you don’t have to even talk about it and that shouldn’t be a requirement, but just to say hey you know what maybe tomorrow morning’s a better time because X, Y Z just happened right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And I think the other thing is understanding that there’s things on other people’s plates, you know you mentioned 500 emails a day you know and.

Elevated Talent Consulting: All the multiple communications and whatnot there’s times that things get missed.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And it’s understanding that yeah there’s times that things goodness, but how do we circle back around before we make an assumption that they’re avoiding me or ignoring me or whatnot.

Elevated Talent Consulting: You know you’re right, and I think I think that there’s nothing wrong and people who i’ve worked with i’m very open about you know what, if you have questions i’m super informal.

Elevated Talent Consulting: So it’s kind of understanding how people operate, but I also say hey if you want to get Ahold of me.

Elevated Talent Consulting: send me an email send me an I am through teams, but if you call them leave me a message there’s 150% chance i’m not going to hear it and get back to you because it’s not my preferred method of communication and just be open and honest about that right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: yeah absolutely absolutely I love it.

Elevated Talent Consulting: One of the things that we’ve been doing with many of our clients we use paylocity to the a lot with our clients is you know it’s it’s the push notifications that go to their phone.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And guess what their paycheck is attached to that are going to read those notifications right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And as we’re talking about communication, I think that there’s some current events that have popped up in the last couple of weeks.

Elevated Talent Consulting: That, I think, really bring this up into light and that’s the base camp situation where the CEO sent out, you know the memo to a staff, which essentially said here’s what we’re doing.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And here’s what we’re not talking about which was diversity equity and inclusion so essentially sitting i’m not talking about this, therefore, you have a choice we’re going to give you a buyout or not.

Elevated Talent Consulting: You know, so a third of the staff that have been left and so as we talk about communication.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And really tying that to communication that drives the results you know when you start with what result you want, how do you back into the way that you communicate.

Elevated Talent Consulting: what’s your thoughts on that yeah you know I think I think the way that I do that and I take a look at it and I first I think it’s always.

Elevated Talent Consulting: what’s in it, for me, so I put myself in their shoes saying okay what’s in it for them if there’s a big change, like the case that you’re talking about or.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Big you know paradigm shifts in the way that you operate at a business it’s not Okay, just to throw it on a spreadsheet or throw it on a PowerPoint and put it up it’s just noise to people.

Elevated Talent Consulting: A lot of times I compared change and communications are running a marathon.

Elevated Talent Consulting: For those of us in HR we tend to be you know mile 13 right like we’re already along the change we’re already preparing for it now we’re preparing to bring people at you know at the start.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And we often forget as professionals, that we are already halfway through the marathon and they’re just beginning right so it’s backing up.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Stopping for a second and saying Okay, if I want them to adopt it, I need them to trust me I need to be transparent, I need to be open and honest and they need to make sure.

Elevated Talent Consulting: That I understand what’s in it for them and try to build that.

Elevated Talent Consulting: That way and be open about that not just throw things you know up on the screen, if you will, because we have a tendency to do that, and then we check the list right it’s a checkbox exercise absolutely absolutely.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And that prioritization I think one of the keys to communication is what priority level does this fallen for who based on who my audiences yeah it priorities wow.

Elevated Talent Consulting: I think we all, can I think we all can go into work every single day and say okay i’m going to get this this and this done.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And we come out four hours five hours 678 910 hours later, going I literally got nothing done on that list of my priorities, because things are thrown at you.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Every single day, whether it’s a fire in HR you know, putting something out and fixing a problem or whatever it may be, it could be a family issue or whatever.

Elevated Talent Consulting: it’s hard to do that, so I think we all begin our day with a priority and we try to end with you know clear headed i’m a big.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Big believer in in leaving work at work when you can so whether or not it’s a 10 minute drive home or you know talking on the phone or whatever and kind of getting your head straight.

Elevated Talent Consulting: What am I going to accomplish what did I accomplish today what are some wins that I can take with me for the day.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And then move on to tomorrow and see what we can, what we can prioritize and it’s there’s nothing wrong with saying no and making sure that you empower your employees to be able to say no in the right situations of course there’s those that you just can’t.

Elevated Talent Consulting: But I think it’s really important that people are able to do that and say you know what I have too much on my plate.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Or what do you want to drop, what do you want to come off in order for me to get that done we don’t do enough of that.

Elevated Talent Consulting: I absolutely love that and in the previous podcast if you go back to episode 18 we actually talked about something that we use in our organization called easy weeks.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Where essentially we’re stating you know what are your priorities every day Where are you concerning your focus and really communicating with the rest of your team that these two hours are focused time and you’ve got your email on.

Elevated Talent Consulting: offline you’ve got your team’s turned off all of the things but everybody knows that right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And yet, my team still knows if there’s an emergency that they need me they can text me but otherwise that time is off limits, you are, you are correct, and I think organizations forget that and I will say, especially us organizations are probably the worst working in a global environment.

Elevated Talent Consulting: it’s definitely not that way everywhere, I think us as as Americans have a tendency to just.

Elevated Talent Consulting: We work, work, work and that’s just who we are and I think we all have to make our own personal rules my you know me myself, I will work late into the night.

Elevated Talent Consulting: But when I am done and I turn my phone off from work it’s off it doesn’t come to bed with me I try not to have it on during the weekends and people know that about me, but during the week.

Elevated Talent Consulting: i’m available pretty much all the time until you know I go to sleep and then it so you know i’m done.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And that’s and I think, especially in HR or in the executive suite right there are so many Poles, on your time and if you’re not setting those boundaries as to this is work time, and this is family time.

Elevated Talent Consulting: or whatnot those get crossed and there’s emergency situations, absolutely but there’s also.

Elevated Talent Consulting: The random pto calls at 11 o’clock at night that’s going, this is not important, and we have an obligation to train our staff that those things need to happen during the work hours, I think you’re right.

Elevated Talent Consulting: I do you know I once worked, this is a few years ago, but just to bring some reality right into our conversation I had a Co worker of mine.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Who, we thought that if she sent out emails and scheduled them for four o’clock in the morning, or two o’clock in the morning, that she was really working really hard and she wanted people to see that and it actually blew up on her.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Where there was conversation saying you know what don’t do that, then people feel like they have to emulate you.

Elevated Talent Consulting: to grow and that they’re expected them to be answering emails and sending them out at two and four, and we know you’re scheduling them.

Elevated Talent Consulting: So be cognizant of other people’s time and I think some of that again in a global organization.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Is if you’re sending information over to Europe or into you know, Asia or wherever it may be, be cognizant of that and use the scheduling in the email, so that they do get it let’s say at nine o’clock am their time.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Right, so that they’re not bombarded when they first get into work with all of these different emails of oh gosh that’s how it started out my day like we need to be better at that yeah absolutely.

Elevated Talent Consulting: So we always under podcast with two key questions, and you know that is what is one key takeaway from our conversation today and for those executives listening in.

Elevated Talent Consulting: yeah, I think, for me, you know one big key takeaway that I can’t stress enough, is the transparency piece I don’t think organizations today and that all by any means are as transparent as they could be.

Elevated Talent Consulting: we’re all adults in a company, we can take the good with the bad and the bad with the good.

Elevated Talent Consulting: and trust that the employees know what they’re doing and they’d rather know I would rather know I hear from my employees constantly i’d rather know what’s happening, even if it’s bad, so I can better plan and i’m not surprised so again, transparency is key.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Absolutely and what’s one of those key takeaways for our HR listeners.

Elevated Talent Consulting: yeah I think for HR exactly what you and I were talking about is just being self aware of how you’re presenting yourself, especially for leadership HR leadership we have.

Elevated Talent Consulting: The organization looks at us, they look at us to lead they look at us to be the pioneers of whatever it is, we want the organization to feel.

Elevated Talent Consulting: From a culture perspective as well, so just be self aware of you know, when you’re contacting employees what you’re saying how you’re saying it and how you are advising other leaders to lead, especially when it comes to communication I think more is better.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Even if you’re uncomfortable be okay with being uncomfortable that’s what makes us human.

Elevated Talent Consulting: Absolutely awesome Thank you so much for this conversation on communication that drives results.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And if you loved her conversation with amy today in a couple weeks, he will be back talking about how we create talent pathways in the organization.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And it’s one of those topics that’s a bit different than probably won’t what we typically think about.

Elevated Talent Consulting: So if you are interested in following her you can find her on linkedin and that will be in our show notes.

Elevated Talent Consulting: And you know if you love these conversations, please take a look at our talent optimization foundation program where we have office hours and live webinars every single Monday at 1pm central thanks so much.