How to Improve Your Employee Communication SkillsComments Off
As a manager, you’ve got quite a bit on your plate. The delicate balance of your own business tasks, coordination with upper management, and delegating work to your team can be harrowing, at best. The problem is that many managers have problems with effective communication and often find their employees confused or, at a minimum, suffering from poor morale. Here are some things you can do to improve your communication skills when it comes to speaking with your employees.
Have a Communicative Team Culture
You’ve probably read a lot about corporate culture. Your team needs to have a culture of its own as well. If you don’t usually talk to your team and ask for opinions, they’ll be shy to give them when you do get around to it. You can do this in two ways – through the use of group meetings and private meetings.
Group meetings are great because they allow you to have a scheduled time to communicate information that the entire group needs to share. These meetings should be informal and brief, allowing you to impart important information or changes to projects that the group is working on. Keep them to a scheduled time (for uniformity and scheduling purpose) and make sure they serve a purpose so that your employees don’t feel like they’re losing work time.
One on one meetings should happen on a semi-regular basis and should also be short. Your employees should feel like they can talk to you or email you with concerns at any time, but a brief 15-minute session every other week will make them feel as though they have a time to air concerns, ask questions, and simply touch base.
Either way, you should spend a little bit of time each day talking to your employees as human beings. Don’t forget that you all have home lives, problems, concerns, and goals. Make sure not all of your communications are to request new tasks or projects be completed.
Written communications are great when you need to ensure that things are documented. If you see an employee is struggling with work load, you may want to pop off a short email so that he can read it at his convenience. If you need to impart specific project details or deadline information, put it in writing. If you have a quick question that can be quickly answered, skip the email and pick up the phone or walk over to his desk rather than flooding his inbox with unnecessary communications he’ll have to wade through later on.
When you simply must communicate by email, make sure your messages are professional, constructive, and to the point – especially if you are sharing information about corporate changes. Don’t try to use sarcasm or joking tones as not everyone picks up on the attempts at tone in writing.
Listen to Your Employees
Communication isn’t just about giving information – it’s about listening to feedback as well. Don’t ask your employees for their thoughts if you don’t intend to give them consideration. If you do get feedback, respond to it, whether you’re able to implement the ideas given to you or not. Failure to respond will make your employees feel unappreciated and if they feel like you don’t care, they’ll shut down – first personally, then professionally.
Pay Attention to Water Cooler Chatter
I once worked for an organization that was going through some downsizing. Everyone knew about it, but the managers weren’t talking about it. By the time the managers were given permission from the upper levels to discuss the realistic possibilities and address concerns, employee morale throughout the organization was already shattered. Listen to the rumors going around the office and make sure you address them as soon as humanly possible. Your employees will appreciate your honestly, no matter what the news.
Letting your employees know that they are valued as people, not just as employees, is important. Take some time each day to follow-up and connect on a personal level. Your professional attitude with a personal touch will create a happier work environment.
About the Author: Elwood Stuckmeyer tries to bypass business phone systems for personal communication with is team whenever possible. He prefers face-to-face contact so that he can gauge employee reactions and take the right actions.