Poor workplace communication is the number one complaint of many employees and employers. Not only is it incredibly frustrating, it also affects productivity, lowers morale, increases the risk of workplace accidents, and generally throws a monkey wrench in your operation.
So how can you as a leader assure that you are communicating effectively with your staff? Here are some common sense tips to help with communication development.
Create a respectful environment.
When your staff knows that you will not immediately shoot down any ideas they put forward, they will more willingly step out of their comfort zones and contribute great things. Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, once said, “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say. It’s terribly important for everyone to get involved. Our best ideas come from clerks and stock-boys.”
Honesty IS the best policy.
Employees can often smell a rat a mile away. Even if you must approach uncomfortable topics, be upfront and honest. You will be respected for it and other members of your team will consider you to be trustworthy.
There is no reason to sugar-coat information or beat around the bush. Speak to your staff as peers and not children incapable of handling facts.
TMI doesn’t apply.
Error on the side of “over sharing.” (Not personally, of course J.) Provide your team with details on the issues facing your organization. After all, how can they help if they don’t know what the problems are?
Nip it in the bud.
When you are facing a problem, be sure to communicate it with both management and staff at the onset. Otherwise you may end up becoming frustrated and blindsiding unsuspecting employees once the issue has become larger than it needs to be.
Mind reading doesn’t work.
Don’t assume that they know what you are thinking…they don’t.
Practice active listening.
This doesn’t mean staring at the other person pretending to listen while secretly forming your argument in your mind and waiting for them to take a breath so that you can launch into your response. It means listening, processing the information provided by the other person, and thoughtfully responding to their comments.
Provide regular feedback.
This should be a balance of genuine positive feedback and constructive criticism. The “caught being good” method works wonders on morale and softens those occasions when correction is necessary.
Don’t be a phony.
Be genuine in your words and actions. A good leader embodies the vision of the organization. Make sure you walk the walk and talk the talk.
Avoid the “smartest person in the room” syndrome.
Recognize that you are not the only intelligent life form that exists in your company. Be open-minded to new ideas and avoid speaking authoritatively about things that you know little about.
Communication and leadership go hand in hand. By practicing the communication techniques above, you can create a positive culture of open communication and respect.
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