If you're a manager or a boss, chances are your employees never criticize you or express concern about any poor communication skills they observe. What would they say, though, if they felt safe putting their opinions out there? When you want to take steps toward leadership training and improvement, it can be helpful to learn about some of the skills your employees would like to see from you.
You may never learn if your communication skills are connecting with your employees if you don't ask them. You already know they may not be completely honest if you force a confrontation, so find a way for your employees to give feedback anonymously, and take seriously what you learn.
One way in which a manager's poor communication skills can manifest is when he fails to appreciate the work his employees are doing. Maybe it's because he feels threatened, so he tosses around criticism thoughtlessly. Maybe he doesn't have social skills or isn't mature enough to express true appreciation when it's warranted. Express appreciation to your staff to help them feel like valued members of your team.
Insecure bosses often intimidate their staff deliberately out of a misconceived notion that this proves they're strong leaders. However, your employees don't appreciate this behavior. Be consistent in your communications to your staff so they can operate without wondering which version of their boss they can expect to see from day to day, and don't indulge in behavior that overpowers or intimidates them.
Good communication goes both ways. It's not enough to be clear in what you say or to give a stunning presentation. If you want to connect well with your employees, you must listen to what they're saying. Don't fall into the trap of planning out your own response instead of listening, and make sure you aren't interrupting your employees when they're trying to communicate with you.
Your employees may know more about your division and your products than you do, especially if you're new to your position. If you don't have a particular subject matter expertise, be honest about that and say so. You don't have to know everything; what matters is what you do with the information and knowledge you do have. By exercising good communication skills and honesty, you can leverage your entire team to move your whole division forward.
Yes, your employees look to you for strategic thinking, project management and even technical expertise. But they especially want to feel comfortable with your leadership and communication skills. As you consider all the varying leadership training options available, choosing to focus on improving communication skills can have a payoff that goes far beyond hanging out in the break room and puts you on the path to developing a truly functional team.
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