Mike McCarthy: Change the communication channel

Managing change is hard, especially when only half of the team seem invested. But does that mean the disinterested team members aren't motivated or could they just not understand your vision? Here, Mike McCarthy reveals different personality types respond to varying communication channels and it's part of your role as a leader to decipher what they are and respond accordingly.

There’s not a business today that isn’t grappling with change, but tailoring your communications strategy to individual team members can make adapting much easier for everyone.

Change could be dealing with client expectations that have been reshaped due to the pandemic, working around supply chain issues, pricing issues due to inflated operating costs or that nebulous challenge of consumer sentiment. 

To keep a business viable, agile and positioned for growth, the business leader has had to become, first and foremost, a change manager.  

In real estate, many of our challenges are not new ones. 

Market cycles are part of the fabric of our industry, but there are now other challenges, such as Reserve Bank of Australia policy, adapting to the rapid evolution of PropTech and the power of social media to throw a damaging curve ball.

You may also find you have a team that’s ragged from several years now of change, adaptation, forced innovation and just plain lack of certainty about what the future holds.

Communicating change

As a leader, you know what needs to be done, you have a plan that should bulletproof your business.

But your strategy might be bold, entail significant movement from the status quo, and need every team member on board with 100 per cent commitment. 

You’ve held a team meeting, laid out the plan, and agreed on the KPIs that will make the plan work – but that’s just the beginning.

To give your plan the very best chance of success, you need to curate the message for each individual team member.

Too often, as leaders, we talk to a group. 

We know our individual team members well and we appreciate their different talents and abilities. 

But do we always stop to consider what the optimum form of communication is for them?

Or do we use our preferred leadership communication style rather than adjust our delivery to ensure that the reason and process for the change is clear and understood on an individual level?

If you can understand the communication style each team member relates to best, and adapt your methods to reflect this, you significantly increase your chance of the message being received in a way that motivates and resonates.

Tools for success

Change is confronting, but having the reasons communicated in a manner that we find easy to absorb, in a way that appeals to our personal hot buttons, has much more chance of bringing everyone along as a committed participant in the journey.

You would all be aware of the personality analysis tools that are out there – Myer Briggs, TMS, DiSC, just to name a few.

It’s a truly worthwhile exercise to go through a process with your team where their personality types and preferred communication styles are identified.

But it’s not a one and done exercise. 

People change and evolve with experience, age and job function – so carry out your analysis at least annually and consistently look to modify your methods and manner of communication to reflect that evolution.

Time and time again, I’ve seen a change in communication style work miracles in motivating a team member I thought was disengaged. 

It’s not easy to force yourself to adapt your message delivery style.

The temptation is to judge people who require time to digest and bounce back or need a more detailed personal email communication instead of a team conversation.

But a leader is someone who recognises the neurodiversity of their team and embraces it for the rich asset it is.

Show More

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy is the Director and CEO of Barry Plant Real Estate. Mike has guided the group to be the leading real estate franchise in Victoria, winning national awards for both sales and property management.