If there was ever going to be one skill, just one, that you as a manager could learn so that staff engagement is amplified and teams of workers unified, communication would be it.
What you say and how you say it determines whether employees do the bare minimum or bare their all with a little bit more. And generally, there are nine major mistakes that stop managers from being competent communicators.
1. Not dealing with uncertainty
Rumours are fuelled when there’s obvious change at work that managers aren’t talking about. This fires up anxiety and hoses down trust. Be clear about what’s going on, talk openly about the future, and seek your employees’ feedback.
Listen with empathy and act on it.
2. Forgetting the Power Principle
The ‘Power Principle’ states that no matter how well you know your staff, you’re still their boss. This means that since you’re their superior, they’ll filter information they tell you because they deem your relationship to be uneven.
Even then, to be a masterful communicator, you need to extract the truth from your team. For example, make it easy for them to tell you bad news by not overreacting when you hear it. Instead, welcome it.
3. Being dishonest
Keeping sensitive topics secret is one thing, but outright lies are a separate issue. If you get caught out, you’ll get nought out of your team.
It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
4. Making decisions without explanations
Managers running a hectic business, rushed off their feet and in the heat of the moment, can’t be blamed for issuing instructions without a seconds thought. But the possibility of any decisions and directions being embraced by your team are reduced significantly when you don’t take the time to explain the reasons behind them. Provide your employees with clarity on your thinking so there’s no calamity in their thinking.
5. Relying too much on email as a communication tool
Try and avoid the use of email as much as possible. It’s amazing how a tool that has revolutionised productivity in workplaces around the world has now become a hindrance to the very productivity it created.
Relationships, which are the cornerstone of employee engagement, are fostered via face-to-face communication. Email also tends to distort your tone, where what you intend to communicate isn’t the message that’s delivered.
6. Misjudging your employees’ intelligence
Employees tend to comprehend more than you think they do, especially since people are more educated now than at any point in history.
Just because an employee, especially a Gen Y’er, dresses like a punk and walks in a funk, doesn’t mean that they can’t grasp precisely what’s going on, so don’t talk down to them. No matter their age, treat them like adults that you respect and admire.
7. Neglecting to provide recognition
A common trap that managers fall into is that they’re constantly on the lookout for employees doing things wrong, which is fair enough, because performance needs to be improved.
But with such an intense focus on what’s amiss, we miss the stuff that’s great. Be as vigilant with trying to catch your employees doing things right so that you can recognise them for it. Most people value acknowledgement above all else at work.
8. Sounding too businesslike
The business world has a habit of turning people into clones. They begin to sound the same, look the same, and act the same. Whilst it’s important to be professional, try to avoid using ridiculous clichés (such as “let’s take this offline”), overused phrases (such as “moving forward”) and business jargon (such as “above board”).
It’s better to just be authentic and to talk to your employees as if they’re real people, not business cards.
9. Talking too much
The most powerful communication method you can use is… listening. The best listeners eliminate distractions, ask questions, withhold judgement, and look out for unspoken clues in their employees’ body language.
There’s a big difference between acting like you’re interested and genuinely being interested. You might hear what you don’t want to hear, but what your employees will experience is a manager that cares.
Communication is the exchange of understanding, which means that what you’ve communicated to an employee has been received in the way that you intended, and that you’ve gotten a response back to let you know that that’s the case.
Anything less isn’t communication. It’s just making noises with your mouth.
By James Adonis
Republished from the International Institute of Directors and Managers (IIDM) – www.iidmglobal.com
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