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Speak Up: The Skill Your Employees Want You to Improve

Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor

Employees think their bosses could be better communicators. Here are tips on how to communicate better.

  • Companies that communicate more effectively and efficiently enjoy better employee performance.
  • One of the critical factors of employee relations is effective managerial communication. Mediocre communication is linked with poor employee relations.
  • There is a link between company growth and profitability with how bosses relate with their junior employees.

If employees had it their way, their bosses would be better communicators, new research finds. 

A study from Robert Half Management Resources revealed that communication skills are what workers think their managers could improve on most. Specifically, 30 percent of the employees surveyed said communication and diplomacy are the areas bosses could be better at. 

"At the managerial and executive levels, possessing technical skills is frequently less important than being a good leader and communicator," Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, said in a statement. "The greatest ideas go nowhere if a manager cannot express them effectively, gain consensus and build the work relationships necessary to execute them." 

Being a skilled diplomat and strong communicator can help professionals climb the corporate ladder, according to Hird. [Read related article:]

"Leaders must be able to tailor their communication style to the individual and recognize what motivates each team member," he said. "Managers who excel at this achieve higher levels of employee engagement and productivity." 

To help managers improve their communication skills, Robert Half Management Resources offers several tips: 

1. Communicate better.

Have a schedule for informal communication. Have a schedule for your meeting. Spend at least 15 minutes on nontransactional conversation with your juniors. These are conversations outside the official area of work that assist in build relationships with your employees. Employees need to view you as human as possible and just as a machinery of the organization. Holding regular, scheduled meetings gives employees an avenue to know how to relate with you on different occasions.

Create a culture of transparency. It is important for your employees to know when the company is doing very well and when it is facing challenges. Where an organization does not build trust with its employees, it breaks the lines of communication with its employees. Employees will not be willing to listen to the managers, as they cannot differentiate what is true and what is not.

Frequently have one on one meeting with the employees rather than constantly sending emails. Have informal confabs with those who report to you. Review performance and any challenges experienced. Take this opportunity to motivate your juniors. Face-to-face conversations have a more profound effect than emails and messaging.

2. Get feedback from everyone.

Successful communication must be a two-way street. Bosses should get opinions on their performance from not just those who they work for, but from those who work for them as well. Managers should be asking those around them about their communication preferences and how they can make it easier for employees to come to them with questions. Since not everyone, especially those working for them, will feel comfortable giving candid answers, bosses can try gathering feedback anonymously. 

Most of the work in organizations is done by employees, and they should be able to come up with solutions to their challenges. Create a formal feedback mechanism for them such as a suggestion box or hotline. In some cases, employees have the alternative of giving feedback anonymously. Take employees' input seriously. "Just because someone gives you a suggestion doesn't mean you have to implement it," says Patricia Veesart, a regional director of the Kansas Small Business Development Center.

Keep check of your management attitude. Employees will often not give feedback in an environment where they feel threatened. If employees are scolded for asking questions or challenging the views of their superiors, they are unlikely to let you know of any challenges they are facing. It is essential for management to reward employees where they give feedback that results to increased profits or reduced losses. The organization can tailor its rewards systems in such a way that employees benefit directly into the revenue streams they create through volunteering feedback. 

3. Take notes on how others do it.

Think of managers who impress you and who have great relationships with their employees. Observe how they interact with others and try to incorporate some of that in your own behavior. 

4. Push your limits.

It is important to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and put some extra effort into improving your areas of weakness. If you aren't good at having difficult conversations, find a mentor or colleague who can offer some advice. If you aren't great at giving presentations, don't feel embarrassed to take a public speaking class. 

5. Be a good listener.

To be a good communicator, you need to be adept at listening. When talking to others, really listen to what they are saying instead of thinking how you are going to respond. Also, when someone finishes talking, pause for a second to make sure you don't interrupt others. It is important to seek clarification before making any response. This can be achieved by paraphrasing what you have understood from the other party and seeking clarity as to whether that is what they intended to say. Be sure to capture the emotions of the other party to avoid sounding rude or distant to their needs.

6. Make sure that your message is heard.

Become aware of your own abilities to communicate effectively. Individuals who are dominant can discourage employees from giving feedback as they feel intimidated. Measure the tone of your voice. Individuals with a deep voice should watch how they speak to avoid sounding aggressive. Individuals who have sharp or hoarse voice should ensure they are audible enough for everyone to hear.

Sharpen your message. Where a message is too long, people often fail to pay attention after a while. Ensure you capture the most important details at the beginning of the message. Keep it brief. Make your objectives clear.

7. Be yourself.

Being a boss doesn't mean you relinquish your right to be an individual. Be sure to show your employees that you are honest, relatable and, at times, vulnerable. Also, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Employees appreciate knowing that you're not perfect.  

In addition to communication skills, employees want their bosses to work on their technical expertise, leadership, strategic thinking and project management skills. 

The study was based on surveys of 1,000 U.S. workers employed in office environments.

Image Credit: Nako Photography / Shutterstock
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