How to Align 3 Key Employee Communication Styles in Your Organization

Jun 20, 2017

How to Align 3 Key Employee Communication Styles in Your Organization

It is inevitable that your organization will experience challenges with employee communication styles. To address this challenge, you need to understand the differences in how employees think and process information.

Each employee has their own internal thinking that dictates behavior and communication in the workplace. In our experience working with clients across multiple industries, ZERORISK HR categorizes communication styles in the following three ways, ranging from logical to intuitive to unconventional.

Understanding these categories will help managers address roadblocks and better align teams within the organization.

1. Logical Communication: Process and Communicate

These types of employees process information analytically and then communicate in a linear and logical way. They use statistics, figures, or data to process their thoughts and present arguments.

When a meeting takes place, these individuals need the meeting to follow a linear progression of thought and discussion so they make a case for their argument. But, if the manager or another employee in the meeting takes the discussion a different direction, it could be troublesome for logical thinkers. They might even shut down.

Then, after the meeting, logical thinkers will have difficulty following through on their assigned tasks because they do not have full understanding. What often happens is a manager and direct report come out of the same meeting with completely different understanding of what was discussed and assigned. This will cause issues over time.

2. Intuitive Communication: Visual Processor

A second group of employees are visual processors. They are somewhat linear in that they follow a process to think and communicate. But, they solve problems or communicate through more visual descriptions.

Using facts or figures is not enough for intuitive communicators. These individuals need to use stories, pictures, or analogies to make a point and process information. It not only makes sense in their head, but they believe it accentuates the point to their audience.

Visual employees are flexible. These employees can adjust to a given situation, but they rely on their ability to tell a compelling story rather than citing facts to make an argument.

This type of personality needs a captive audience to understand their method of communication and appreciate their visual methodology. Otherwise, there will be a conflict with individuals like linear communicators who do not appreciate their style of presenting information.

3. Unconventional Communication: Non-Linear Style

The third group are non-linear processors and communicators. They jump around in their thoughts, go off on tangents, and have a more creative approach to how they interact with others.

These types of thinkers and communicators are natural fits in advertising and marketing roles where their creativity can flourish. Outside of the advertising industry, ZERORISK HR has also seen successful non-linear thinkers in creative software roles or working with home builders.

Some of the top-performing interior designers fall into the unconventional category because their internal processing translates well to thinking outside the box in a design setting.

By contrast, you typically see bankers, accountants, or financial analysts in the first category of linear thinkers who need to follow a strict process and use data to be successful in their role.

How do you Align These Three Styles?

To align the communication style of employees in the overall organization or a team, you need to start with an objective study of the top performers in a specific role. The objective measurement will tell you the type of thinking or communication style that best matches the role.

Once you determine job fit, you can ask the question of whether each employee's natural way of thinking and communicating is best utilized in that role. Or, is there a poor fit where the employee is not in a position to be successful?

For example, ZERORISK HR studied a client where the leader used an unconventional communication style and the direct reports were logical communicators. Expectations were often unmet because the direct reports did not have clear understanding of their directives. The leader assumed that information was relayed in a way that could be easily followed, but the employees were unable to process their assignments and then complete the tasks.

When this situation arises, the next step is determining how to align the team. Now that the leader is aware of the various communication styles and potential conflicts in their department, they can adjust accordingly.

ZERORISK HR offers the Clear Direction Team and Communication Development Program that provides managers with an objective overview of the different thinking and communication styles of their team. [Click here to view an example Team Directory.]

This program dives into the macro thinking of the overall team and the micro thinking of each individual. The result is determining the best fit for an individual in a specific role. And, vice versa, the role for an individual.

The resulting Team Directory Report breaks down the diverse thinking and communication styles of each employee and provides clear direction for how managers can effectively communicate with and motivate each individual. This creates alignment in your organization and will allow your leaders to successfully manage a team of linear, visual, and unconventional communicators.


ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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