Communication skills are necessary in every workplace and in nearly all cases, that means more than one kind of communication skills. Communicating with clients and prospective clients is one skill set and communicating with one’s managers is an entirely different one. For employees in supervising positions, communicating with their teams is another skill set to master. All of these skill sets, despite their differences, are necessary for career success.

Effective Communication Between Leaders and Employees

Effective communication between leaders and employees is all about getting messages across clearly and efficiently. This type of communication should be more direct than communication with clients, who expect customer service when interacting with company representatives. Communication between managers and employees does not have to be as service-oriented or “on brand;” it simply needs to convey the information necessary for all parties involved in the interaction to complete their tasks.

For employees, learning how to communicate effectively with individuals at every level in their organization is a skill they need to master in order to thrive in their workplaces. Poor communication skills can stall, or even end, a career.

Types of Workplace Communication

There are numerous types of communication that occur in every workplace. These kinds of communication can be divided into different categories, and most communication between leaders and employees fits into at least two, sometimes three, of these categories.

Specific forms of communication include:

  • Verbal communication.
  • Written communication.
  • Non-verbal communication.
  • Visual communication.

The positions of the individuals communicating with one another also determine the type of communication that occurs. There are two directions communication between managers and employees can flow:

  • Upward communication, which is employee to manager.
  • Downward communication, which is manager to employee.

When going over communication in the workplace, it is also important to acknowledge the difference between formal and informal communication. Formal communication is serious communication that discusses topics like new policies, workplace rules, compensation, job and promotion offers and important workplace events. Informal communication is casual conversation, like an invitation to colleagues to eat lunch together or a quick phone call to remind a manager of his upcoming meeting.

Developing Employees’ Communication Skills

Communication skills are important in every role. In some roles, certain communication skills are more important than others. For example, individuals in managerial roles need to have strong downward communication skills that motivate employees, rather than speaking to them ambiguously or in a condescending manner. Individuals in client-facing positions have to have strong verbal communication skills and high emotional intelligence skills because their interactions can dramatically impact how much the company makes – or loses – from a particular client.

There are numerous ways to go over communication in the workplace and promote strong communication between management and employees. A few strategies that can be used for this purpose include:

  • Employee coaching plans that focus on communication skills development.
  • Communication games.
  • Skill-building activities.

No matter the role of an individual holds in an organization, knowing how to navigate communication between leaders and employees is important because, without it, he cannot effectively communicate with the others on his team. Just like a leader has to be able to motivate and coach employees, a subordinate must afford his supervisor the respect she garners as a senior member of the organization and direct inquiries that require her input as necessary. When employees do not understand how to effectively communicate up or down the organizational ladder, it can become easy for them to make assumptions that turn into mistakes, which can cost the company in time, resources, industry clout and productivity.