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All About Communicating as a Manager

By: Lisa Koning - Updated: 7 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Communication Listening Talking Staff

An effective manager communicates well with his or her staff. Good communication is about giving information, or gathering information, in an appropriate manner, to the right people, at the right time.

So how can you build strong communication skills as a Manager?

Be Available

An Open Door Policy creates an environment where staff believe you are available and accessible. In addition, they feel welcome to share their ideas or to raise concerns without repercussions. However an Open Door Policy has little effectiveness if you are rarely in your office or when you are, you are on the phone.

Make regular catch-up meeting with your staff. There doesn’t need to be a purpose. Even a fifteen-minute catch-up every week allows the manager an opportunity to have a quick update and gives the staff member the chance to air any concerns that may be growing.

Be Open

Encourage communication as two-way process. Regardless of whether you are ‘telling a message’ or ‘asking for information’; communication should include all parties involved. Show an interest in what they have to say, regardless of whether you consider it of importance or not, and invite contributions. Remember your non-verbal communication when showing an interest. If you ask them for their ideas and then continually accept phone interruptions shows you are not genuinely interested.

Let people air their grievances; sometimes they simply need to talk. The act of talking can help people understand a problem better and it can be enough for them to address it themselves.

Share knowledge and information

Where possible, make information readily available. If knowledge can be shared in open forums, such as team meetings, then use this as an opportunity to ensure that your team are all receiving the same message. Information that is shared with some and not others is great fodder for the grape vine.

Some information, however, is not appropriate for open forums. When information is of a personal nature or relevant to only a few, it is important to consider the most suitable environment. Finding out information via email can seem impersonal, likewise, continuing informing people of small changes in person can be time consuming. You need to find the right balance.

Sending out a team email, or distributing minutes from a team meeting, is a way of ensuring everyone receives the same information.

Communicating One-to-One

Some communication needs to be delivered one-to-one: this can be delivered in person, via the telephone, or via email. Communication in person allows for all parties involved to discuss and ask questions. Any misunderstandings can be immediately addressed and face-to-face meetings allow for non-verbal communication. Speaking via the telephone is a necessary form of communication in business, particularly with people travelling frequently and in globally distributed teams. A phone conversation allows for discussions but is communication without non-verbal messages. Some messages are better delivered in person.

Using Emails

Emails are the quickest way to communicate. They offer a one-way form off communication (at least when they are first produced) and as such can quickly be sent off. Writing an email can help the writer construct a better message and the receiver can also take time in preparing a response. The downside with emails is that they may not necessarily be interpreted the way you intended. What could have been a quick conversation in person can result in a string of emails because of misunderstands and misinterpretations.

Truthful & Factual

Whether you are sending out an email, giving a presentation, or having a one-to-one conversation, stick to the facts, keep emotions aside, and tell the truth. If you don’t have the facts available, or you are not able to divulge the details, then say so. Perhaps you can provide what you do know: for example, I cannot tell you the date that this will become effective, however I will be able to tell you by the end of the year. It’s better to err on the side of caution then to make promises you may not be able to keep.

Encourage Communication Skills in your Team

Encourage your staff to talk to people where possible; walking to someone’s desk and speaking to them builds better relationships then always sending emails.

Give junior members of staff the opportunity to present at a team meeting. When preparing presentations encourage different people to participate.

Effective communication occurs regularly and is about telling a message in a clear and factual manner; it’s about listening and showing an interest, and it’s about keeping your staff information. Communication is an essential skill of a Manager.

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