During my career, I’ve gotten to know managers in radio, TV, newspapers, and advertising agencies. Although they all worked in the communications industry, some of them were lousy communicators. I guess some people think that just because they work in the industry, that it magically makes them able to effectively communicate ideas and concepts to their peers, employees, and members of the public.
Effective communication requires practice and a constant awareness of basic techniques that will elevate their communications game. Here are ten of them:
Begin With A Communications Assessment
Because every member of your team inputs and remembers information in different ways, you might consider having everyone complete a communications assessment. Each member of the team completes a questionnaire, and then the results should be shared so that everyone knows how best to share internal information.
Develop A Formal Internal Communications Plan
If you have a communications team, work with them and members from various department personnel to develop an internal communications strategy. If you don’t have a communications team, get volunteers from throughout your organization to help you develop a plan. Consider how company news will be shared, who prepares it, and how often it will be distributed. Over-communicate rather than under-communicate. Develop your strategy and stick with it. If you have remote workers, they will be especially grateful for knowing what is going on.
Have a Positive Attitude
Your glass should be half full when you share information. Even when you have to share bad news, choose your words carefully so that people hear hope from you. Even when you have to offer criticism, do it in such a way that you are not making it personal.
Communicate By Listening
If your approach is to write a lot of memos or make oral proclamations, you are dictating not communicating, and we all know that dictators don’t survive for long. Establish ways for two-way communications. Saying that you have an open-door policy, does you no good if people don’t take advantage of the opportunity. Perhaps you want to consider regular all-staff meetings or smaller departmental meetings at which you listen and answer questions regularly. If your team desires it, consider an anonymous online system for feedback and questions.
Communicate Via Interpersonal Relationships
Look for opportunities to build one on one relationships with your team members. Building trust; that way is worth more than a thousand emails. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use email to answer a quick question, but it easy to be misunderstood that way, and you certainly won’t build your reputation as an approachable leader who is willing to engage.
Get The Facts First
An employee might want you to react to a situation or offer your opinion about an issue. Before you take a stand, make sure you have the facts you need. As a parent, I remember when one of our kids would run to me with a request before I could find out that my wife already said no. And even if a situation arises that no one asks you about, don’t reach your conclusions until you’ve gathered the necessary information.
Communicate A Positive Work Ethic
Establishing strong work ethics starts with you. It includes the way you work, but also the words you use. You set the tone for the times when you aren’t with them.
Encourage Your Team To Think
As a leader, you are expected to set the tone and provide direction. But, it is also essential for you to know when it is best to stay quiet. If you have cultivated a team that becomes experts at getting stuff done without thinking and analyzing situations for themselves, you won’t get the most out of them. Good leaders know they don’t have the only good ideas.
Know How To Communicate Praise
Every old school management book tells you to look for occasions to praise your team when they do something great. It’s good advice unless the praise doesn’t come off as genuine. Rather than issuing a “pat on the back” memo when an employee completes an everyday task, set a higher bar and look for those positive things that will help you illustrate the level of commitment and work, and that deserves special attention.
Communicate With Management Software
Large organizations always have a lot of projects at various stages of completion. Because of the complexity of many of these projects, it takes many staff members to contribute to its success. Communicating each step, progress, and assigned tasks is critical. Take advantage of software packages that will help. Base Camp, for example, gives you the flexibility to get an overview of each project, assign tasks, and to-do lists to each employee. I’ve found other programs, like Slack, to be too social and less structured.
Putting these ten steps into practice will help you be seen as a strong leader and a better communicator.
What other techniques work for you?