Employees live in a mixed world of virtual meetings, in-person meetings, emails, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and dozens of other ways to get your message across. With so many communication outlets available to use, managers must have the knowledge and interpersonal skills necessary to keep their company running smoothly.
Effective leadership starts with effective communication. At Insight Global, we have a set of behaviors we believe make the best leaders. Effective communication blankets itself over many of these behaviors, which include saying what you mean, setting a vision, and communicating a simple and clear message.
In this post, we’ll discuss communication skills for managers in various settings. By the end of it, you’ll have a strong idea of how to improve communication with team members to make you a better overall leader.
Why it’s important for managers to have effective communication skills
Communication skills for managers and business leaders are one of the most important soft skills you can develop. It involves any sort of communication (verbal and non-verbal) you have with an employee in-person, on video calls, emails, messages, or any platform used to keep in touch.
Good communication skills for managers allow you to:
- Explain tasks and goals clearly to their team
- Understand what their team is working on and provide feedback as needed
- Resolve any conflicts that may arise
- Ensure everyone is on the same page regarding deadlines, expectations, etc.
Without proper communication skills, a manager may have a hard time keeping their team on track in accomplishing objectives and goals. Everyone in the company needs to communicate effectively for the business or company as a whole to succeed. But this process starts with good communication from managers.
8 Communication Skills for Managers to Work On
So, how can managers improve formal communications? There are eight skills and habits we believe managers can work on to develop communication skills that will help you clearly speak to your employees.
1. Be an effective listener
One of the essential parts of communication is being an active listener. Make sure your employees feel like you are hearing them out when they speak up about concerns or problems within their work environment. When people see you are paying attention to what they have to say, they are more likely to trust you with other information. Being an effective listener also helps build better relationships with your team, which is key to a thriving working environment.
Make sure you are actually listening to your team and not just waiting for employees to finish so you can talk. If you’re only half-listening, they will see right through it and may not feel comfortable speaking up again. Active listening also makes employees feel appreciated and heard.
In order to be an effective listener:
- Paraphrase back what you’ve heard to ensure that you understood it correctly, and ask questions if there are any details you missed
- Avoid multitasking while someone is talking to you
- Give the speaker your full attention
- Make sure not to interrupt the person who is speaking
- Show interest in what they say by nodding or making other affirmative noises
Companies need good managers with communication skills to keep all their teams productive. By being an active listener, explaining tasks clearly, and resolving conflicts as needed, a manager can create a more productive work environment through employee engagement.
The most important part is to listen to what others are saying and try to understand where they’re coming from before making decisions that could lead to conflicts or misunderstandings. If you want your employees to feel like they can come to talk to you about anything, start by setting the tone yourself by actively listening. Don’t try to immediately solve a problem.
2. Know the right time and manner to communicate with team members
It’s important to know when to communicate with your team members. Communicating too often can cause them stress and make employees feel overwhelmed with criticisms or concerns. However, communicating too little could lead to misunderstandings or missed opportunities.
Make sure you give each team member enough time for self-reflection before deciding whether they’re ready to receive information from you. When it comes to communication between managers themselves, this should be scheduled in advance so that everyone can prepare what they want to say beforehand. When leaders are clear about why they’re meeting with their teams, meetings become much more productive. Teammates will know precisely what’s expected of them so they can come to meetings prepared to contribute.
When you have a task you need completed by your employees, ask them directly and clearly. If you are unsure what needs to be done, list the tasks that need completing first, so there is no confusion later on about what was asked from each individual. Giving orders directly is also essential to avoid confusion among your employees.
Nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal communication. Supervisors should practice good posture, pay attention to their tone of voice, make eye contact, and avoid crossing their arms while speaking to their team members.
These simple gestures help create a positive atmosphere and show that the supervisor is interested in what the employee says. Body language can also send mixed messages, so it’s essential to know how you’re coming across when communicating with your team.
3. Accommodate employees’ needs
Managers should be more flexible to their employees’ needs to create a healthy workplace. Not being flexible may lead to low morale and lack of job satisfaction.
Listen and empathize with your employees to accommodate employees’ needs. This may mean adjusting work schedules or adapting different communication styles in some cases. This rings especially true for remote employees, who may need to be managed and communicated with differently than someone who’s in the office more frequently.
It is also vital for managers to be aware of any potential sensitivities an employee may have and try not to offend them inadvertently. When communicating with your team, you must remember that they are all unique individuals with different experiences, education, and cultural beliefs. To avoid communication failures, consider the receiver’s background knowledge and skills when communicating with them. Educate yourself on your employees’ backgrounds and improve your cultural intelligence.
This also means that if you are talking about a new part of the business to an employee, it might be helpful to provide some additional information or offer further explanations so as not to confuse the person or people involved.
4. Be transparent
Managers should be transparent with their employees. This means sharing information with them on time and being clear about expectations. You also need to be truthful when answering employees’ questions. As a leader, you need to mean what you say.
If managers establish trust by being transparent, it will encourage employees to communicate openly. Employees who feel like they can trust their manager are more likely to be productive and engaged at work.
Managers also need to communicate their expectations with employees to know what is required from them. This is part if being transparent. Managers should provide a fair amount of detail related to the assignment rather than just saying, “do this,” or, “here’s your project, good luck!” It may take more time at first, but it will save time in the long run if you can clearly explain what needs to be done within a set amount of time.
If there are specific methods you want to use, make sure those instructions are included. Managers should always aim to be clear and concise when giving instructions or communicating with employees. This will help ensure that everyone understands what is said and minimize confusion.
5. Repeat messages that are important
By repeating the important messages, you ensure your team understands what you want them to do. Repeating messages also show that you pay attention and care about what your team is doing.
A repeated message indirectly instructs employees to finish a task on a priority or keep a goal in mind. Employees sometimes could use a refresher on the goals or tasks you’re trying to accomplish. Don’t assume your team knows everything you want them to know, especially if you haven’t said it out loud or over an email before.
6. Set clear calls to action
Effective communicators fight against complexity in their messages. Setting clear calls to action is one of the most important communication skills a manager can develop. When giving instructions, ensure employees know what they are supposed to do and when to do it. More importantly, employees need to know why they are doing something. Defining the what, when, and why of a project are important parts of communicating to your team.
Maintain consistency with this messaging and be reliable to your team members’ needs by setting these expectations early on. This can prevent the need for last-minute changes that can become frustrating and time-consuming. Set realistic deadlines so you don’t fall behind, and allow yourself enough flexibility if something comes up unexpectedly. Be transparent with your employees about what’s expected of them from day one so they have clear guidelines for all aspects of their work including:
- Day-to-day responsibilities
- Schedules for tasks
- When you want projects finished
- End dates for goals and objectives
- What “success” means for your team/company
Communication is vital here. Employees should never feel unsure or confused about anything going forward because there was no proper plan at the beginning. Knowing what they need to do and why they are doing it will both help get your team where it needs to go.
7. Make yourself available
Always make sure you are available to your team. A manager that is present in crunch situations is a manager that is respected and appreciated.
Managers who make themselves available also boosts productivity. When your team knows you are available, they will come to you when the urgent problem needs to be solved immediately. The best managers have one thing in common: being open-minded towards their employees. Good ideas that were not expected can show up at any moment, and if a manager does not accept those ideas, they may never come to fruition.
Part of making yourself available is allowing your employees to ask questions and provide feedback, too.
This type of communication will enable employees to feel heard and build trust between worker and manager. Supervisors should set firm boundaries around when it is appropriate or not appropriate to contact employees at different times of the day, though.
In the end, employees who feel like they can come to their supervisor with any question or concern will likely be more productive in their work. Managers should thus have active listening skills and take action when needed, as we discussed in previous tips.
Being there for your employees both professionally and personally will go a long way.
8. Think about the future
Insight Global believes the best leaders have one foot in the present and one foot in the future. On the communication side of things, you need to make sure you are keeping both in mind when communicating to employees. This means always being prepared and planning what you want to say before you speak and thinking about how your words might be interpreted. It also means keeping your goals and future aspirations as a company in mind when operating in the present.
Managers should not sugarcoat anything. Be honest and straightforward in your words so that people clearly understand how you feel about something or what is expected from them. This does not mean being rude but instead having an open conversation with the person/people involved to achieve a solution together. This way, the future is not only straightforward but also mutually beneficial.
Communication skills for managers take time to develop, but they are essential to a company’s day-to-day activities and general growth. We hope you feel more confident and ready to communicate with your team at the end of this quick guide.
If you need help hiring top talent, head over to the Insight Global hiring page and we’ll instantly get you connected with the right candidates.