Remember playing the game Telephone? You sit in a circle, and one person whispers a message to the next, and it travels by whisper all the way around the circle until the person who created the message hears…

Something completely different.

Here’s something that may surprise you: You can almost pinpoint what people share by their Kolbe scores. Not sure what Kolbe scores are? Here’s a quick guide to what they are and how we use them in our hiring process.

Some people will never give you all the details because they’re big-picture people! They will tell you the gist. Then, there are the detail-oriented people who will fill in the blanks, and pass the message on to someone else, but a lot can be lost in those gaps.

Understanding how people communicate, and what type of communication they work best with, is a major factor in office harmony.

1. Ask employees to write down how they prefer to receive information

When our office invited Shannon Waller, from Strategic Coach, to do a workshop with us, we had no idea how much The Communication Builder would change how we operate on a day-to-day basis. One of the exercises we did was to share how we like to receive and give information and what time of day we communicate best. Paired with sharing our Kolbe scores, this information helps us understand how, and when, to communicate with our team members for the best results – and how to interact and work with them in general.

Do: Have your team answer these questions

  • How do you prefer to receive information? In-person, over email, by phone, via text or Slack?
  • What time of day do you prefer to check and answer your messages?
  • What is your least favorite method and/or time to be contacted?
  • What is your Kolbe score, and how does that reflect your communication style?

Once everyone has answered those questions, create a cheat sheet for every team member everyone else can reference.

2. Ensure communications are clear, detailed, and understood by the receiver!

This is where knowing someone’s Kolbe score is extremely useful because you’ll know that a co-worker who scores high as a Fact Finder needs more detail, or someone who scores high as a Quickstart is more of a big-picture thinker. We’ve learned to structure our internal communications to ensure the important parts aren’t lost, no matter who is giving or receiving information. For example, in our project briefs, we list The Goal, The Ideal Outcome, The Audience, and What has to be true for this to be done effectively. Then it’s easy for everyone to understand because the thought is fully formed before being passed on.

Do: Add some structure to communications with this outline:

  • What is the goal of the project/task?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What has to be true for this task to be done effectively?
  • What is the timeline/deadline?

3. Never assume!

Assumptions are the opposite of clear, effective communication. For example, we tend to assume our co-workers know what urgent projects we’re working on, or what stresses we’re under (and they rarely do!). Make sure to share small and large updates with your team regularly.

Do: Create a Quick Updates time in your weekly team meetings

  • Also, send any mid-week updates to everyone via email (never assume people know about your spreadsheets or task lists!)

4. Optimize team meetings as problem-solving sessions

We use much of our team meeting time to solve issues that come up. With everyone in the room, it’s easier to break down what’s going on. But to make time for the real problem-solving work, we have to optimize the rest of the meeting to quickly and efficiently address the most important points. Check out our Ultimate Meeting Template.

Do: Optimize your team meetings to make time for the bigger issues. Here’s how we do it.

  • Start the meeting by inviting everyone to share one positive thing, personal or professional.
  • Ask for “Headlines” – where everyone shares their work-related updates. One sentence per “headline” only please, straight and to the point! Clarification questions can be asked.
  • Make a list of pressing issues to address as a group.
  • Follow the Ultimate Meeting Template to solve the problem!

5. Encourage interactions between managers and employees

A recent Gallup survey showed that employees are 3X more likely to be engaged when managers hold regular meetings with their direct reports. Interactions have also been linked to higher profit: organizations that prioritize interactions are twice as likely to be among the top financially performing companies. Many companies are trading in the Annual Performance Review for more frequent, less formal one-on-one chats between managers and employees, which boost the number and quality of interactions.

Do: Make sure your managers have time in their schedules for one-on-one meetings with their direct reports.