How to Build a Productive Team: Establish a Common Language
Establishing a common language is vital to any team. Between tone, meaning and intention—there are lots of ways that communication can get muddled. Learn why having a common language will help your team communicate more effectively and become more productive.
How a Common Language Helps Productivity
Author: Nathan Miller
Creating a team that functions efficiently and effectively is a daunting task for most fitness professionals, and it is one that gets pushed to the back burner far too often. If you have ever had an employee whom you just can’t seem to get on the same page with, or if you have had a lot of turnover in your business, you know what I am talking about.
Not having a productive team can cost you money, but more importantly your time. Reclaiming that time is something that I want to help you do here.
Not having a productive team can cost you money, but more importantly your time.
To build a productive team you need 3 things:
- Common Language
- Unifying Purpose
- Shared Values
These are some really big topics, so let’s just talk about the first and most important aspect in this post: establishing a common language.
Establishing a common language is vital to any team because without that, there is a tremendous amount of leeway in meaning and intention.
Problems like employees not following through on tasks or not following through to the degree you want is one symptom. Another is a general feeling of tension in meetings which will bleed into how those coaches perform on the training floor.
Being able to have the mechanics of your communication established is the single most important thing in setting yourself up with a productive team. To do that, you need a framework to understand how people differ in communication, and I highly recommend Everything DiSC®.
What is DiSC?
Everything DiSC is a personality and communication assessment that measures what types of communication work for different people. Everything DiSC has many different applications, but its core purpose is to help people understand how others around them prefer to function.
Pictured to the right is the Everything DiSC circle. It has 4 quadrants: D, i, S, and C. Each of the quadrants represents a different communication style. There is a possibility of mixing styles, but for this exercise we are going to be focusing on the big 4.
Around the outside of the circle, there are different values that correspond with the styles they overlay. There are values in common with neighboring styles because people can blend the styles (like I mentioned above).
|Quick Key to the DiSC Styles|
|Dominate: Direct, Results-oriented, Firm, Strong-willed, Forceful||Influence: Outgoing, Enthusiastic, Optimistic, High-spirited, Lively|
|Conscientious: Analytical, Reserved, Precise, Private, Systematic||Steadiness: Even-tempered, Accommodating, Patient, Humble, Tactful|
To understand where someone falls on the circle (and know it with any certainty), you should take the Everything DiSC Assessment. There are many nuances, and if we are going to be using this as a base to build a team communication structure on, we shouldn’t use guesswork.
We can offer you that assessment if you are interested. Just check out the section at the bottom of the article.
However, for the sake of this article, you can use a quick and dirty version to understand the quadrants with two questions:
- Is this person Fast-Paced and Outspoken (top of the circle) or Cautious and Reflective (bottom of the circle)?
- Is this person Accepting and Warm (right side of the circle) or Questioning and Skeptical (left side of the circe)?
Using that information, we can already glean quite a bit about how someone likes to communicate.
Let’s use an imaginary situation to show you how this works:
“Jacob” one of my imaginary trainers, is someone who is Cautious and Reflective and Accepting and Warm; that puts him in the “S” quadrant. Every time I confront him about something that needs to change in his coaching, he shrinks away and feels like he has to defend himself. Once, he even thought that I was going to fire him. That was by no means my intention, but he has changed how he acts around me even when things are going well.
Because I know now that he is likely to value Stability, Support, and Collaboration, I know that rather than talking about the way that he needs to change, I can frame our discussion as a way that we can work together to make the product better. This way I can ensure that we are all improving the experience of the clients and working as a team to accomplish it. I can emphasize that I am trying to help and support his growth as a coach.
Now, that story is a little misleading. For things to change so dramatically, all parties must understand what is going on. That is where the common language comes in.
By using Everything DiSC in your business, you will have the groundwork laid for a conversation about what people need and what they struggle with.
Let’s return to the Jacob situation and see how this plays out.
Jacob struggles with tackling a problem head on, and I struggled with giving Jacob a clear understanding of what I was trying to do. If we can talk upfront about what we need, we can head off those SNAFUs in our communication.
This will work best when you can use Everything DiSC as a team by having everyone go through the assessment. There is no guesswork when you have the results, and you can have a discussion about the mechanics of your communication without the extra stress of dealing with a problem.
After establishing a common language, and once you feel that you are communicating well, having a unifying purpose is vital.
Nathan Miller, Success Coach at FR Nation
Nathan started in the fitness industry as an intern at Force Fitness and Performance and worked all the way up to working for Ryan Ketchum and Wil Fleming as a full time coach, marketing team member, and managing Force’s social media presence. His areas of expertise are lead generation, general marketing, systems creation, and DiSC personality assessment. Nathan and his wife, Maria, live in Milwaukee.