#313 from Innovative
Leader Volume 6, Number 12
Tips to Cultivate Communication
Flaherty is a senior consultant with PBS & Associates, Inc., a
San Diego based consulting firm specializing in leadership
development, organizational assessments, and management consulting
The following ten
tips will help increase your effectiveness when communicating with
employees. You will
find these tips to be simple. But, our experience tells us that
when managers use these techniques, employees notice not only
better communication with their boss, but greater morale in their
Increase the frequency of your
communication, particularly during periods of rapid organizational
change. Tell your employees what you know, even if you preface it
with "Based on what I know today...but it could change
tomorrow." Telling employees what you know, even if it may be
subject to change, helps build trust. On the other hand,
withholding information erodes trust levels between management and
Keep Your Door Open
Whenever possible, keep your office door
open. In addition, make sure your body language also tells
employees that you have an "open door policy." Crossing
your arms, sighing over interruptions, and not looking at the
speaker all say that you may be accessible, but not approachable.
Keep your employees updated on your
schedule. Knowing your schedule will help them prioritize their
work and allow them to make better decisions relevant to
supporting you. Knowing
their schedules will help you understand their current pressures.
On a regular
basis, ask your employees, "What do you need from me?"
Doing so gives employees the opportunity to update you on
projects. It also prompts you to provide the information needed to
keep those projects on schedule.
Call In Frequently
If you are away from the office, touch base
with your support team on a regular basis. Doing so allows you to
respond quickly to messages and troubleshoot potential issues that
may have surfaced in your absence. It also says to your employees,
indirectly, "I care enough to check in with you when I'm
Hold Regular Meetings
Keep employees informed about management
decisions, goals, and direction. Allow
Keep Personalized Files
Keep an anecdotal file for each employee.
Doing so will help you stay informed and current about that
particular employee. A simple note saying "Janice said that
she plans on taking a computer course in the fall" will not
only help you remember the fact, but impress Janice when you bring
the point up in a later conversation.
Conduct Quarterly Reviews
Want to make annual reviews less dreaded
for both manager and employee? Conduct quarterly reviews. Doing so
allows the employee time throughout the year to address
Tackle Tough Issues
Conflict is alive and well in most
organizations. What differs from organization to organization is
the way conflict is handled. Healthy organizations address
conflict. We recently ran across the term "carefrontation."
It takes courage and guts to honestly communicate the real issues
to people. When you do not honestly discuss but instead sidestep
the tough issues, employees may feel that you do not care. If you
do care, you will confront people with compassion. When you
honestly communicate, even the tough issues, people trust you
because they know you really value them.
Commit to Communicating
Communication is an art, not a science. You
can easily learn principles related to communication, but to
become a master, you must practice. Monet was not a great artist
the first time he put brush to canvas. It took years of practice!
With practice and commitment to effectively communicating with
employees, you will eventually become known as a "great