By Michael Gunther

One of the top issues in the workplace is poor communication. Often leaders can stumble to truly understand each employee’s unique perspective or style of communication. Employees are left feeling frustrated and neglected if their leaders are not good communicators. USA Today recently published an article on bad bosses and the negative impact they have on employee morale, turnover, and ultimately, the profit of their organizations. Over a third of employees are either looking or have looked to leave their jobs because of poor management. Think of the cost that ineffective management is having on businesses. 

Imagine a third of your customers leaving because of poor leadership and communication. Most business owners would take stock of what is not working and try to fix the issues. Many leaders fail to look at themselves through the same lenses that their employees do. I have often heard business owners say “this is the way I manage, if they don’t like it, they can leave.”  This view point on leadership is neither proactive nor progressive. It is a perspective that fails to realize the negative effect on the bottom-line.
So, if ineffective manager communication is a constant complaint from employees, shouldn’t you figure out a way to become a better communicator? This is where behavioral assessments can assist those leaders who are driven to improve themselves and their skills. The history of behavioral assessments dates back over 2000 years, with accelerated research over the last 100 years. The reality is, roughly half of our personality behaviors are believed to be inborn–much like our preference for writing with our right or left hand. The other half is believed to be influenced by our upbringing, education, life experiences, values, etc.– which can change over time. As a manager, if you could understand the 50% of an employee’s communication style and behaviors in addition to a slice of the other 50%–their convictions or personality–you can use this information to improve your working relationship. Wouldn’t you want this tool?
I have used behavioral assessments over the last 20 years both for my personal development as well as that of my employees and clients. I became a fan of these communication tools early in my career. I was fortunate enough to work with a company that believed that the better we understand ourselves, the better we are as leaders and managers. At the time, I was working for a national organization and there was one individual on my team with whom I didn’t get along (and I get along with most people). But this individual and I would constantly see things from opposite perspectives. We would always end up in some type of debate as to how to move forward on a project or a decision. And then our leadership team brought in a facilitator who taught us all about ourselves and our team using the Myers-Briggs behavioral assessment tool. I was immediately hooked. I realized that part of the issue was we had different world views and needed completely different communication styles to work effectively with one another. The facilitator said that if we would shift our styles of communication and collaborate on projects, we would make a great team. We would be able to look at situations from a more holistic view.

Neither of us was going to leave the company, so we decided to work on our relationship. Before I knew it, I was not only working better with this individual, but with my team as a whole. Understanding myself and adjusting my style to work more effectively with my team was improving not only the communication, but also the bottom line performance. For the last 20 years I’ve been using these tools to enhance the understanding between leaders and their teams as well as improve the overall culture and communication within organizations.

Fast-forward to today…we now use the next generation of behavioral assessments, called WorkTraits. This tool not only allows you to understand an individual’s behaviors, but also the items that motivate employees in the workplace. As a leader, the ongoing application of this information using assessments in the past was always a challenge, and I would forget team member’s results. A month or two after the training I wouldn’t know how to approach someone because I had no easy reference tools. The WorkTraits system, created by Dr. Mark Vickers, has been the first tool I have seen clients still using one, two, three years down the line to improve communication, management, and recruiting.

The bottom line

Do you want to become a better leader and improve communication within your team to enhance performance and profit? Then you need to implement a behavioral system that is accessible and actionable.

The reality is, the more you know about yourself and your team, the more likely you are to know success.

This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career. To read the previous articles in this series, visit his blog at

Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. Learn more at

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