Inconsistency, lack of clarity, and lack of listening are barriers to communication (Ready Training Online, 2018). Ineffective communication breaks trust and creates misunderstandings, where effective communication increases engagement, improves efficiencies, and creates opportunities for increased understanding and better morale (SHRM, n.d.).
Three Best Practices of Communication
To solve the problem of consistency, it is a best practice for managers to communicate often and real-time, to be responsive and respond quickly (Martic, 2020). In times of change (or high stress), it is best for leaders to communicate even more to stay connected to the team (Brownlee, 2019). According to Robert Half Talent Solutions, a guideline is to communicate two to three times more often with remote employees (Robert Half, 2020).
To solve the problem of lack of clarity, it is a best practice for managers to be transparent and honest in their communication (Martic, 2020). Straight talk, presenting the facts, is an important part of this transparency (Robert Half, 2020). Transparency, rather than omitting facts or failing to communicate bad news, builds trust and relationship between leaders and employees (Brownlee, 2019).
To solve the problem of lack of listening, it is best practice to ask for input and feedback, ask for the employee’s perspective, and ask for explanation of the scenario (Young Entrepreneur Council, 2015). Good managers try to understand and connect through listening more than talking (Brownlee, 2019). By being active and empathetic listeners, two-way communication is achieved, and employees feel that they are heard and respected (Robert Half, 2019). Being a great listener also means that the manager will be equipped to respond better due to increased understanding (Young Entrepreneur Council, 2015). Supporting those two-way conversations make employees engaged and improves the quality and frequency of feedback (Martic, 2020).
Ensuring Communications are Received
Whether. a manager says something face to face, sends an email, sends a text, or says something on the phone, they need to receive acknowledgement that the message was received. This may be a verbal confirmation, long sigh, or a nonverbal nod of the head. The manager can request immediate feedback or acknowledgement to verify that the message was received (Sanchez, n.d.).
Listening is Key to Understanding the Context and Priority of Each Message
As mentioned earlier, active listening is crucial to understanding. Context and priority, critical to determine the importance of the message and its true meaning, can only come from an open-minded, empathetic approach to listening. An effective manager must shift their perspective to put themselves in their employee’s shoes (Engaged HR, 2016).
What Actions Come Next?
A manager needs to consistently set clear expectations and clarify the action steps that need to be taken. In these expectations, both the quality of work as well as the timeframe should be communicated, the purpose, and the breakdown of steps and actions that need to be taken (Impraise, n.d.). It is a leader’s responsibility to communicate the goals and tasks in a way that is clear to employees (Brownlee, 2019).
How Can Managers Ensure Information Is Effective?
Managers need to troubleshoot any communication issues and check the usefulness of their message and their communication channel (McQuerrey, n.d.). By being available to employees (Robert Half, 2020) and being adaptable to the situation (Young Entrepreneur Council, 2015), managers can communicate in a way that suits the situation, including the audience and the context.
Beyond the communication issues that would impair communication, it is important to consider the content of the message itself. Effective content in communication should be clear, concise, and accurate. If it is emotionally-charged, controversial, or too personal, it may not be effective (Freemont College, n.d.).
Brownlee, D. (2019, July 1). 5 Communications Best Practices of Great Leaders. https://www.forbes.com/sites/danabrownlee/2019/07/01/5-communications-best-practices-of-great-leaders/?sh=204ac202e99d
Engaged HR. (2016, August 17). Communication: The Importance of Context. https://engagedhr.com/the-importance-of-context/
Freemont College. (n.d.). Top 10 Tips for Effective Workplace Communication. https://fremont.edu/top-10-tips-for-effective-workplace-communication/
Impraise. (n.d.). How to clearly set and communicate expectations as a manager. https://www.impraise.com/blog/how-to-clearly-set-and-communicate-expectations-as-a-manager
Martic, K. (2020, January 21). 14 Manager Communication Best Practices You Shouldn’t Ignore. https://blog.smarp.com/14-manager-communication-best-practices-you-shouldnt-ignore
McQuerrey, L. (n.d.). Manager’s Role in Facilitation & Effective Communication. https://work.chron.com/managers-role-facilitation-effective-communication-11621.html
Ready Training Online. (2018, May 23). Barriers to effective communication. http://readytrainingonline.com/employee-management/barriers-effective-communication/
Robert Half Talent Solutions. (2020, June 22). 7 Strategies for Improving Your Management Communication Skills. https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/management-tips/7-strategies-all-managers-can-use-to-improve-communication-skills
Sanchez, N. (n.d.). Communications Process. https://web.njit.edu/~lipuma/352comproc/comproc.htm
SHRM. (n.d.). Managing Organizational Communication. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingorganizationalcommunication.aspx
Young Entrepreneur Council. (2015, May 18). 14 Best Practices for More Effective Communication: Effective communication is a critical leadership skill, but it takes practice. https://www.inc.com/young-entrepreneur-council/14-best-practices-for-more-effective-communication.html