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Even Communication = Effective Teams

Who enjoys working on a team with a loudmouth? I imagine that not one hand went up. The technical term for this is “uneven communication.” While annoying in any setting, in the emergency management field, it’s quite dangerous. We need to hear from everyone when it comes to planning for, responding to, or recovering from an emergency or crisis, not just the brashest person in the room.

I get it; some people are just more assertive than others and this often plays out clearly in group work. If some team members dominate the conversation while others sit silent, a skilled leader will notice and put the brakes on the process and do a quick survey of the entire team. This action may help create a space for the quieter members to speak up. I have managed teams in the past and haven’t caught this quick enough. It’s a lot less work to stop this before it starts than to try and fix it after it happens. Once a team member “shuts down” you may have lost them completely.

What about when a team gets off balance due to tempers or some disagreement. It’s the leader’s job to watch for this and help quell potential conflicts that may derail the process. Something as simple as identifying and pointing out that a single person has interrupted the speaker multiple times or, that the conversation is going in circles allows others to recognize their behaviors and make a change. I am a firm believer that very few teams have individuals who are deliberately derailing a process. Often, it’s just a case of one person being a little more assured than others in the group.

We want confidence and quick thinking on our teams but too much of this can drown out the rest of the team members. As a leader you must learn how to correctly balance of every team you manage, allowing the entire team to flourish, while creating a place for even communication.

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