Constructive Communication in International Teams - An Experience-Based Guide

von: iCom Team

Waxmann Verlag GmbH, 2014

ISBN: 9783830980254 , 247 Seiten

Format: PDF, ePUB, OL

Kopierschutz: frei

Windows PC,Mac OSX für alle DRM-fähigen eReader Apple iPad, Android Tablet PC's Apple iPod touch, iPhone und Android Smartphones Online-Lesen für: Windows PC,Mac OSX,Linux

Preis: 30,99 EUR

Mehr zum Inhalt

Constructive Communication in International Teams - An Experience-Based Guide


Constructive communication in international teams

Foreword by David Ryback, Ph.D.

What a novel idea! A book about interpersonal communication written by 12 authors who put their egos on the shelf and dive into sharing an enterprise that typically is limited to one, two or, at the most, three authors!

Born out of a desire to share their personal experiences, and creating a mind-melding that is extremely rare in book publishing, these pioneers have succeeded at innovating a process of collaboration which is obviously quite successful. Dealing with all the aspects of successful interpersonal communication in the context of leadership and technology, they make the process fun for both themselves and their readers – no easy task.

Forming as a group of colleagues making up the International Constructive Communication project (iCom) from two countries, these brave people allow not only for personal openness in their writing but also for a freedom to choose just how much openness each member decides to share at any particular time.

In the introduction, the authors describe the parameters of efficiency in teamwork, including transparent communication with few barriers, a sense of inclusion, and decentralized decision-making. On the surface, this may appear difficult to achieve, given that strong personalities in business typically come with equally strong egos. But Dr. Carl Rogers had a simple approach (Ryback, 1989). Just bring the team players into a room, close the door to assure privacy and focus, and then encourage them to engage in emotional transparency under the nurturing guidance of a strong/soft facilitator who is sufficiently emotionally secure with him/herself to ensure that emotional authenticity rules the day.

Hidden personality conflicts, previously swept under the rug, are gently revealed, allowing all to see one another’s fears and vulnerabilities that formerly kept them from being totally honest and authentic. Given sufficient time and attention, these conflicts and other dynamics that kept subtle ideas from being fully expressed give way to a common emotional language that the team can now use to transcend barriers to effective communication. Only in this “team-centered” manner can the group reach its full potential, thought Rogers. And now, in this book, these twelve authors prove his point.

Using an “agile, creative process,” the book begins with ideas voted on by the authors in democratic fashion, then assigning responsibilities for research, case studies, etc., and then moving on to create this exciting publication for IT managers and any others wanting to reach for the winning potential of their teams, even involving potential readers as “business-partner” authors in this “shared vision,” all of this requiring a “high degree of transparency” to use the authors’ own terms. Communication took place in face-to-face meetings or online, and always with as much openness as possible.

One of the accidental learnings, the authors discovered, was how agile management, in addition to planning and scheduling, requires an openness from the start of any project, so that all minds start from the same page, even the same first lines on that first page. Another gem is the re-discovery of the importance of complementarity of strengths of team members – how they can fit with one another in seamless fashion as they become more productive and efficient.

A major focus in this book is comparing the interface between people both in face-to-face communication and electronically. Group e-mails are notorious for low response rates. So what to do? The authors come up with a highly sensible solution: Pace the two modes in such a manner that the connection among the members stays strong. Allow the electronic option to follow the real-life one so that the rapport stays vivid and motivating. This easy solution has sticky characteristics all over it: It is so simple and obvious once we put our brains around it, and it makes sense emotionally as well. And, here’s the winner: once the rapport is assured, through proper pacing of the two modes, then the electronic communication takes off as well. Now we have the best of both worlds! But the essential key here, point out the authors, is that all this starts (and continues) with personal openness and honesty in order to maintain a high level of personal interaction, paying the highest respect to each and to every perspective.

In one of the sections (Case 1 in Every Perspective is Valuable), the authors point out how over-discussing a decision can take too much time, be seen as annoying by the participants and even result in some disengaging from the process. This awareness of one shortcoming of “openness” is important. As a matter of fact, students of leadership recognize that some forms are more effective than others, and there appears to be agreement that the open, democratic styles are most effective, though not entirely without fault.

Daniel Goleman (2000) explored six styles of leadership and concluded that the strongest is an Authoritative style in which the leader invites others to “come along” and join him/her in mobilizing a strong vision. The Democratic style, which is the focus of this book, forging consensus through collaborative participation, inviting all thoughts, is also very positive, as are empathic relationship building (Affiliative) and developing others through empathy (Coaching). What clearly doesn’t work, according to the research, is demanding that associates comply with the boss’ commands (Coercive) or setting high standards of achievement without discussion (Pacesetting). So there is an exalted place for democracy in action, but the caveat is to be respectful of time and circumstances as well, so that there is flexibility to move from democratic process to decision-making when time is of essence.

That’s where the leader’s experience comes into play – to know that subtle difference, and to make the transition smoothly. This is what the authors found out in their Nov. 21st to 23rd, 2012 meeting at Masaryk University, needing someone to steer the process, according to Edith; to form a shared vision first, according to Renate; to reach a balance between the structured and unstructured, according to Antonio; and to have minor decisions made by the leader/manager, according to Christina. As the subtitle, Hold constructs flexibly (in the Leadership category) implies, human interaction is too complex to expect one construct to fit all possibilities. This is true of facilitation as well, even when the aim is to hear all voices.

Carl Rogers himself seemed to have a built-in detector for discriminating between the need for openness to others’ feelings and opinions on the one hand, and his own sense of determination to get things done a certain way, on the other. Driven, I believe, by a strong sense of fairness and respect for others, including a magical sense of group movement, he was able to make it safe for others to take the risk of personal openness to a surprising level. If there were any hints of annoyance or frustration at too much “democratic quibbling,” he might be the first to express this, allowing the group to use this new awareness to move in a more productive (and perhaps less democratic) mode. It was this ability of his to express the nuances of feeling – whether his own or others’ in the group, or the dynamic of the entire group – that made his leadership so charismatic, despite his humble personality. People could trust his sense of emotional awareness to the overall dynamic, buoyed by his unconditional respect for the benefit of the whole.

I have been surprised, over the years, as to how difficult this sense that characterizes Rogers has been to put into the books describing his style. It’s easy to write about his emotional sensitivity; it’s much more challenging to account for the expression of his inner drive to make things work with the strongest devotion to fairness and caring for others. Perhaps this is one of the unique strengths of this engaging book – to illustrate, through personal discussion and honest revelation, how to work with people in a compassionate way and, at the same time, deal with the challenges that arise in real-life situations that, at first blush, may seem to contradict the main theory but, in reflection, prove the theory by allowing for the exceptions, and then how best to deal with them.

Perhaps it does take a “jury” of twelve authors to form the strength to admit when an advocated approach fails, and how – in their collective opinion – these “errors” offer the opportunity to refine the applied theory, so that its applications to the real worlds of education and industry can take hold and offer the most productive outcomes.

Finally, when it comes to personal sharing, there are sometimes situations in which the path becomes frustrating because someone may have an agenda that appears incompatible with the group’s collective expectations. Perhaps it would be helpful to have some guidelines here. Would it be appropriate to invite group members to share what: 1) each feels deeply, 2) is relevant to the discussion at hand, and 3) with an awareness of how the sharing might be received by the group members. Such guidelines might help in Case 2 of the The Team is the Most Wonderful Place to Learn section, as well as other cases through the book.

Ultimately, conclude the authors, what it comes down to is to learn to listen deeply and to be open to ongoing experience. This takes courage. As this book tackles the challenges in larger industrial organizations, from...