Successful management is a delicate balancing act that many fail to achieve. There are many core elements that determine the success of a manager, such as leadership aptitude, and the ability to be empathetic and empowering. However, effective communication is the glue that holds the other core elements together. Communication is such a crucial part of management that mastering this people skill is essential to success.
Effective communication helps to avoid confusion and missteps. Successful managers understand the importance of clearly articulating the company’s vision, goals and objectives, in addition to outlining a progressive action plan. It’s also imperative that managers explain to employees their roles in the company and discuss expectations on both sides. In addition, since managers have different styles, they should communicate the level of supervision that will be provided in comparison to the degree that employees will be allowed to make their own decisions regarding their work.
All successful relationships are built on trust, and the managerial relationship is no exception. Open and honest communication with employees is the only way to create the level of trust that produces a long-term nonadversarial relationship. Although some managers prefer to share information with employees on a “need to know” basis, secretiveness breeds a range of negative emotions in employees, including mistrust of the manager, suspicion regarding their motives, and wariness and even fear regarding the stability of the company and its future.
Effective communication also is used to provide motivation. Taking the time to thank an employee for a job well done and offering praise for their efforts reinforces the desired behavior and shows employees that they are appreciated. It is also important to publicly recognize employees who come up with good ideas, and also to praise them when they give 100 percent -- even when their efforts are unsuccessful. This type of positive feedback serves to boost work performance and increase morale.
Managers need to convey competence when they communicate, since employees know the difference between leaders who can talk a good game, and those who actually know what they’re talking about. While employees don’t expect managers to know everything, they do expect them to be knowledgeable in at least some aspects of the business. And leaders who cannot articulate their knowledge and skills risk losing their employees’ respect, and the ability to influence them. As a result, workers only will respect the title that the manager holds.
Whether one-on-one or in a small group setting, managers must be able to have the “tough conversations.” And a part of effective communication involves knowing when to speak with individuals separately, and when to have conversations as a group. Also, managers must be direct and honest about problems, being careful to address the issues instead of personally attacking the employee. Effective communication also involves listening, so leaders need to hear the employee’s side, and be willing to provide support to help improve work performance.