Managers understand the power of communication – perhaps the number-one tool in a manager’s collection for building rapport and increasing productivity. Effective communication can also be used to hold employees accountable, ensuring that mistakes aren’t repeated and valuable learning opportunities aren’t passed up.
Effective communication is both an art and a science. It takes time to develop and maintain great communication skills. Barriers to good communication in the workplace can be numerous; supervisors who are too rushed, for instance, may not take the time to connect to employees, and high employee turnover requires constant renegotiation of the “ground rules” of the relationship, which affect communication. Persistence pays off when it comes to practicing great communication.
Every manager approaches communication differently, due to differences in personality and style. But all great communicators take on common tasks, like:
- Engaging employees frequently. The more points of contact managers have with employees, the more opportunities arise to build and develop communication skills. Engagement points can be formal, such as meetings, or informal, such as chats in the break room or over cubicle walls. The key is to encourage communication and questions in order to improve information and spark innovation.
- Using effective verbal communication. Verbal communication should be clear, focus on the issue at hand, specify what employees should do, and seek feedback. Open-ended questions like, “What do you think we should do next?” can encourage employees to talk with one another and with their supervisors.
- Employing non-verbal communication. Verbal communication, whether spoken or written, is key to passing messages and information among employees – but it’s only half the battle. Non-verbal communication can also indicate whether you’re really listening to employees. Employees who feel listened to are more likely to feel positively about their role in an organization and to demonstrate increased morale and productivity as a result.
- Knowing and improving communication style. The presentation of a message affects both how the information in the message is expressed and how it is received. Effective managers recognize their own communication styles, as well as the style’s strengths and weaknesses.