The leader’s tone


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I learn so much while teaching my Extraordinary Coach and Developing a Winning Team program. One thing I’ve learned is how leaders use different tones in their communications with their team.

A leader’s tone directly impacts the staff’s morale and performance, and indirectly impacts the customer experience and store results. “Tone” can be the difference between an employee being open to learning and developing, or closed off and defensive.

Let me give you an example. One manager might say to an employee, “Why didn’t you show the gold widget before showing the silver one? You know that’s the rule!” Another might say, “I noticed that you showed the silver widget before the gold one, and I was wondering if there was a reason why.”

While both managers are focused on getting the employee to show gold widgets first, the first manager’s tone is more accusatory, and the second manager is stating what he saw and is looking to better understand why it happened.

Most of us believe that we don’t use the tone of the first example, and that’s probably true, but I think any of us can inadvertently use the wrong tone with someone when we’re tired or frustrated.

Here are three tips to keep your tone positive, which will motivate and inspire your team.

1. Keep your comments focused on people’s behaviors and actions, not on the person him/herself. That’s the major difference in the two examples above. The first manager’s comments were focused as much on the person as the behavior. In my retail coaching program we talk about giving feedback only on what we can see and hear.

2. Don’t include how you feel unless that needs to be an important part of your message. Our feelings determine our tone as much as anything else. When we’re feeling good about things our tone is usually positive and upbeat. When we’re angry and frustrated our tone usually reveals that. The challenge is that those feelings and negative tone becomes a barrier to making changes and improvement in our employees. The moment our staff thinks we are criticizing them personally they will become defensive or shut down. Either way, they won’t hear what they need to hear to improve.

Our feelings only need to become part of the message when we’re talking about how happy or proud we are, or if we’re addressing a situation we’ve already talked about with the employee numerous times.

In our example we might say, “I noticed that you showed the silver widget before the gold one again. I’m feeling frustrated that we’ve talked about this three times this week and I haven’t seen any changes.” Note how the manager’s feelings became part of the message but still didn’t create a negative tone.

3. Concentrate your message on ways the employee can improve. When a manager is always emphasizing what an employee does wrong, the tone can’t help but go south. At the very least it will be interpreted as a negative. By remaining focused on what the employee can do differently or better, you absolutely set a more positive tone.

So let me ask, what kind of tone do your messages have?

– Doug

Note: These are just three of the many things you’ll learn in my four week coaching program. More important it will improve your tone, your effectiveness as a leader and coach, and ultimately your sales results.

Here’s the short version. This program works, and you want to be a more effective leader and coach. This is the last program before the fall. The cost to participate is $447. Reserve your spot here, or call me at 781-861-7803 to discuss your participation.

You can read the long version here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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