PAS-It-On Vol 12 Issue 3
Communication works for those who work at it. ~John Powell
Effective communication skills are cited as one of the most important qualities a good manager can have. Job knowledge is important, experience is important, and the ability to coordinate and manage the workload is important too. However, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with staff and customers is the key to making a workplace successful. Studies show that communication affects everything from employee satisfaction and turnover rates to productivity and work quality.
But the bottom line is this: employees work for people, not just companies. The manager is the embodiment of the company to employees, so how a manager communicates sets the tone for an employee’s relationship with their employer.
What Exactly is “Effective Communication”?
Effective communication is much more than just using words to disperse information. “Communication includes written and non-verbal behaviors as well as speaking, and has as its goal to affect the knowledge or behavior of another.” (Barbara Brown, Definition of Effective Communication Skills) Communication becomes more than just talking and listening. For managers and supervisors, it is a tool to help guide the feelings and actions of others.
The Manager’s Role
Managers are the intermediaries between employer and employee. They have the role of interpreting corporate goals and converting them into individual performance. This requires accurate communication, empathy for employees, and the skill to influence others through language and actions. Great communicators also know they must tailor their communication style to the person or audience they are trying to influence to achieve a higher level of clarity and respect among those they are communicating with.
Making it Count
Managers wear many hats throughout a regular workday. They are responsible for making sure goals are achieved, rules are followed, and deadlines are met. They hire, coach, guide, schedule, and even fill in for absent workers when needed. Each role has its own requirements and responsibilities, but one skill carries across all of them– the ability to communicate effectively. Use these tips to create an optimal environment for effective communication:
Keep it Simple – Keep meetings focused and on topic. Don’t allow the discussion to drift into areas that aren’t relevant to the point at hand. A great way to do this while still recognizing other questions or concerns is to have a “parking lot” list – a place where employees can write their questions or ideas that can be returned to at a later time.
The ability to communicate clearly and effectively with staff and customers is the key to making a workplace successful.
Non-Verbal Cues – It is not just words that people listen to. They read facial expressions. They take cues from tone of voice. They observe body language. Are you avoiding eye contact? Are your arms crossed in front of you? Do you sound stressed, worried, hurried, or angry? If the words don’t match the message, the non-verbal signs being conveyed to the listener will be result in confusion and more questions than answers.
Energy and Motivation – In her article Communication Skills for Effective Project Leaders (for cio.com), Moira Alexander makes the point that no one wants to work for a leader that is “pessimistic, negative, or disengaged.” Everyone has hectic days or things that do not go as planned. A manager who can stay positive, focus on solutions instead of problems and stay motivated will have a more powerful influence on his employees than a leader who can’t.
Be Present – Put down the smartphone. Close down email. Turn the ringer off the phone. Eliminate distractions wherever possible. To achieve the best possible, eliminate as many distractions as possible. Sometimes this includes muting the “multitasking” function as well, which can be very hard to do! Let the importance of the moment take precedence over any other task. When distractions are reduced and focus is tuned in, communication is at its best.
You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere. ~Lee Iacocca
Effective communication is a powerful tool in a manager’s toolbox. Want to learn more? Check out the PAS’ online Life Tools to find articles on improving your own communication skills today.
For more information about how PAS’ Organizational Services can help you build a culture of positivity and productive communication, call PAS at (800) 356-0845.