How to Improve Communication Between Managers and Employees
Managers have it tough. You need to complete your own work duties with the added responsibility of taking care of one or more employees under your wing. There’s a laundry list of managerial duties to fill a whole encyclopedia including mentorship and task assignments to name a few. Books on supervising exist for both official and unofficial job descriptions which makes the duty a whole skillset in itself!
You already know what needs to be done, and maybe even how it’s being done at your company now. But have you thought about how you might make it better? Right now, roughly 50% of employees quit because of bad management experience, according to a study conducted by Udemy.
If this is a struggle you are facing, I have a couple pieces of advice to help guide you into a superstar manager your employees will love and follow wherever you go.
Have Regular Communication
Part of management is delegating jobs-to-be-done while maintaining responsibility for the end result. It would behoove you to remove all blockers your employees might face so they can do their jobs well and on time. You set a consistent schedule to check in on progress of assignments and ensure quality is achieved. After all, you have a boss to report to too!
Ongoing conversations also holds your employees accountable for their work. If someone isn’t showing up on time (or not coming into the office at all), then you need to find out why. Likewise, if someone is getting progressively more depressed and their performance is dropping, then you can address these issues before they get out of control.
Have An Open Door Policy
You need to make time for your employees. An open-door policy is a communication policy where a manager leaves his or her office door “open” to encourage openness and transparency with employees. In remote situations, this policy might take the form of a personal cell phone number or messaging software.
Employees value a culture of easy access and honesty. With an “open” door, you can engage in one-on-one conversations removing the intimidation of authority. Change the perception from obligation to opportunity. Remove the concept of being a nuisance and replace it with an attitude of growth. You are human after all.
Of course, this is a balancing act you will have to set boundaries on for the more needy employees who work best when micromanaged. Your time is precious and you have your own work to do too.
Be An Active Listener
Most people spend more time thinking about what they are going to say than actually listening to what the other person is saying. Don’t be that person. This is where you need to learn empathy.
“Good listening is much more than being silent while the other talks”, says Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman at the Harvard Business Journal. Good listening includes interactions that build a person’s self-esteem, is seen as a cooperative conversation and allows listeners to make suggestions.
In other words, you must engage with your employees before you can expect them to engage with you.
What your employees say is important to them and they want to know their opinion and thoughts matter. 69% of men and 64% of women said they feel valued by their employers, according to a study by ShareFile. They feel like they are just a number and it’s your job to dispel that myth and show them they do matter.
Everyone needs feedback to improve at their job, and there’s a certain tact to doing it right.
When people recount memories, they tend to remember the bad more than the good. Tell me if you’ve ever posted a video or image online and despite hundreds of positive comments, a single negative comment can linger and fester into a dramatic sob story.
Avoid making that scenario for your employees because the second you throw negativity on their plate, their self esteem will plummet. Instead, craft a dire situation into a constructive phrase.
Practice the following:
- Focus on the problem, not the person
- Offer specific suggestions
- Use “I” language instead of accusatory “you”
- Highlight the positives
Remember that scene in LotR where Bilbo is hesitant to give up the ring, and Gandalf stands tall echoing the line “I’m not trying to rob you, I’m trying to help you.”? Do it like Gandalf, but maybe with less swirling darkness and more of a gentle nod.
Put Your Formal Discussions In Writing
People forget things all the time. I have conversations with my colleagues about all manner of subjects on marketing, favorite foods and emerging technology. If you were to ask me what I talked about yesterday, I wouldn’t know what to say. “Honey, did we have spaghetti on Tuesday or Thursday night?”
The point here is that by writing things down you ensure your employees don’t forget. And if they do, you can just direct them to the written word for reference.
During meetings, especially feedback sessions, ensure your employees write things down and repeat them back to you. But you need to write things down too! Send a follow-up email, document the details in meeting notes, or even just have a living notebook you can use.
The important thing here is that people know what the barnacles is going on.
Your Capacity Expanded
Management is tough and sometimes the increased salary doesn’t seem worth it. Understand, however, you have incredible power to influence the profitability of the company indirectly through employee engagement.
At the end of the day, satisfied employees equals better productivity, equals more money for the company. Digital workplace solutions like People1 can help you communicate with your employees and ensure tasks get done and everyone stays satisfied.