Improving Your Management Skills, Part 2 of 12: Improving Communication

Whether you’re trying to improve your relationship with your employees or your relationship with your spouse, communication is usually the best place to start. It’s the best way to make sure you have the same goals, that you’re on the same page, and that everyone else understands what each person is doing and responsible for. Without effective communication, deadlines get missed, duties overlap, and productivity drops. Here are the best ways to improve your communication with your employees.


Honest Reviews


Embrace the straight talk. Honest feedback can be tough to deliver and tough to receive, but if you sugarcoat difficult messages or gloss over the hard truths, your intentions will backfire. Your meaning will be missed and your employees will learn that they can’t trust you. Straight talk is hard, but sincerity shows that you care. And it’s more effective!


Listen more closely


The flip side of delivering honest messages is that you also need to receive them. Embrace the honest opinions, questions, and concerns from your employees. Though they can be tough to take, they’re important to hear if you want to strengthen your relationship with your team. They need to know that they matter. Listen carefully, with nonverbal cues like nodding and holding eye contact. Focus on their words before you formulate a response.


Know your audience


Each of your employees is different, so treat them differently. Some, especially newer, less experienced employees, might need more frequent sit-down meetings to check in. Your veteran employees, on the other hand, probably need less frequent check-ins that you might even be able to cover with a few quick emails.


Communicate the big picture


People tend to engage more in their work when they understand the significance of their duties and how they contribute to the broader goals of the company. When they know their work matter, they’re more likely to take it seriously and perform to the best of their abilities. Make sure they know the company’s goals, the team’s goals, how their tasks fit into those goals, and that their efforts are appreciated.


Make yourself available


An official “open door” policy probably isn’t necessary, but your employees should know that they can come to you with concerns or questions at any time, using either email, phone, or real-life interactions. Make your employees feel welcome and not like they’re interrupting you.


Over-communicate during crises


Sometimes, critical endeavors come up, like a merger or a round of layoffs. These are the moments when the best leaders step up to guide their team into whatever’s next. You need to do extra communicating—full team meetings, one-on-one meetings, and detailed meetings—during these times so your employees feel secure, knowledgeable, and prepared. Otherwise, they’ll feel anxious, frustrated, confused, and even angry.

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