28 Apr [VIDEO] 5 Keys to Fixing Communication Before You Lose Another Employee
“Communication is the heart of all human relations and human relations is at the heart of all human activity. Therefore, good communication skills are paramount— whether you’re a janitor or a chairman.” Rolfe Neill
Masterful communication is vital for your success as a manager. Motivating employees, sharing your vision, and interacting with customers all depends on your ability to properly communicate. As a manager, you are in the business of human relationships.
You must learn how to communicate well if you are to lead your people in a clear, positive manner. Just as botanists care immensely about plants, statisticians love numbers, and athletes enjoy perfecting their skill, so you must master your area of expertise – people. Yes, your priorities must revolve around pushing the business forward. But initiatives are accomplished through people! As such, you need to take care of your team and communicate effectively. The way you give direction will determine how well your team members execute the tasks assigned to them. And when they succeed, so will you!
5 Steps to Masterful Communication
Step 1: Connect
The best managers possess a positive and personable temperament that connects well with others. Remember, employees are not just your worker bees; they are people! Living, breathing humans—just like you. They have families, aspirations, hobbies, and personalities. And they are on your team! Dr. Tony Zeiss, author of Build Your Own Ladder, writes, “People hire people. People promote people. Be a people-oriented communicator, learn to build trusting relationships, and then you will be able to take advantage of this important law for career success.” Show that you care about your team members by connecting with them. Operate out of a positive and caring attitude towards others. Even something as little as remembering their names can go a long way!
By caring for those under you, you demonstrate that it is important and valuable to care about the work you do, and the people with whom you work. You lead by example. And once you lead in this area, you will begin to breed an environment that fosters good working relationships and people that care about their work. And when people put their minds and hearts to working well, your company will be impacted in a positive way. Why? Because engaged employees lead to world-class companies.
Step 2: Support
Once you connect with others, supporting your work “family” will come much easier and feel more natural. For example, suppose some close friends ask for your help. You know them well, you care for them, and you consider it a pleasure to use your gifts for their benefit. In fact, helping them is a joy! They also freely tell you the details surrounding the problem so you can clearly understand the situation at hand. As a result, you are able to use your wisdom and experience to fix the issue and both parties leave feeling satisfied.
Now imagine if you were asked to provide counsel and wisdom for a group of people you had never met. First, you would be less inclined to go out of your way to help them, especially compared to assisting your friends. Second, they may want to “save face” and hide the real issues for fear of embarrassment or inadequacy. It is absurd to think you would end up with the same positive outcome! Your advice and the result would pale in comparison to the experience you had with your friends.
Offering support to your team members works the same way. If they don’t feel comfortable asking you for advice or help, you won’t be able to adequately fix the problem. But once you connect with them, it will be natural and easy to interact in a mutually beneficial way. By focusing on connecting before issues arise, you pave the way to support them when they are having difficulties – and they’ll be more willing to help when extra work is needed.
Step 3: Be Approachable
The next step to effective communication is to make yourself accessible and easy to talk to. Often, approachability stems from caring for others and demonstrating your willingness to support them. Genuinely caring for others makes it obvious to others that you are willing to listen to them. But are you willing to listen? Do people feel comfortable coming to you with problems now? It may sound simple, but many managers miss the importance of being approachable. Don’t make the mistake of looking or being so busy that the very people you are there to guide don’t feel comfortable coming to you.
Softening opinionated and harsh language is another way to cultivate an approachable manner. Benjamin Franklin was once taken aside and given great advice; a kind friend explained that his harsh opinions and offensive talk were so negative and repulsive that no one wanted to share their thoughts aloud with him. His friend then admonished him – if his behaviors persisted, he would never learn and grow; he would merely stagnate. Franklin took this advice to heart and adjusted his words and behaviors. He discovered that his conversations turned more pleasant and that others were more receptive of his ideas. He changed his abrasive ways and gained by kindness what he had wished to attain by badgering.
When you are considerate in your communication with others, people show themselves more eager to actually listen to what you have to say. So be considerate and pleasant in how you speak to others. Kindness really does go a long way!
One of the most important yet overlooked aspects of communication is making sure you have a purpose for your communication. If you are wasting time talking about nothing, how can you expect your employees to be 100% productive during the day? Instead of winging it, be prepared to speak before you communicate with your team. Make your interaction worth the time and effort, for both parties involved. A short rule of thumb: If you are not connecting, teaching, correcting, or motivating them, you’re probably wasting your time and theirs!
If your conversation is a simple “Hey, Bob! How’re the kids?” you don’t have to be prepared with a full-fledged speaking agenda. But in settings where you are giving work assignments or conducting meetings, make sure you set goals for what you want accomplished. This allows your employees to grasp the details that surround a particular task and helps them understand the finished product. Giving them a whole picture is the most effective way to communicate the importance of what they are doing, and helps them find personal motivation to achieve your goal.
Step 5: Take Questions
Stop to take questions after you give an assignment. If your employees need further explanation for anything, listen attentively and give an extra effort to explain further. Propel Magazine advises, “Take an EXTRA moment to explain something to a team member, and you will soon have an EXTRAordinary team.” Explaining effectively the first time you give an assignment saves time and backtracking. By explaining tasks in greater detail first, you better ensure a job done to your satisfaction.
It takes a good leader to create a positive environment for questions to be asked. If you make your employees feel stupid when they ask questions, you’re missing a great opportunity to alleviate problems in the future. Make sure your employees understand by letting them ask questions! Or alternatively, have them repeat their job back to you after you explain it.
Overall, set goals for what you want to get accomplished in conversations, and make sure that when you speak, it’s empowering them to do better, and be better. In other words, be a masterful communicator and your employees will be empowered to be the best that they can be too.
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