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Lead Your Team Managing

Speak Up: The Skill Your Employees Want You to Improve

Speak Up: The Skill Your Employees Want You to Improve
Credit: Nako Photography/Shutterstock

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. [See Related Story: 5 Job Skills You'll Need in the Future]

"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: 

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 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. 

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. 

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. 

In order to be a good communicator, you also 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. 

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. 

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.