Without transparency, employees remain outside of the communication loop. They don’t know what is going on at various times, or ever, and might start gossiping about how “cagey” or “shady” the management is. Rather than causing unnecessary discord and strife, be clear with your team. Provide detailed task and project instructions, let them know about company shifts and changes in due time, and stay honest. Any company that has a reputation for being dishonest and closed off with its workers–well, securing new hires becomes challenging.
This type of listening involves muting or putting away devices, pausing notifications, and focusing solely on the person or people in front of you. Body language also counts, such as leaning in slightly to hear employees instead of crossing arms and legs. The latter body language can indicate boredom or disinterest. Active listening is an effective leadership communication key since it demonstrates respect, interest, and dedication to doing great work. Once the team member who is speaking pauses, feel free to ask questions that piggyback on what they say. Even if it’s something as simple as saying “Expand on that” like the late Larry King, you are showing your interest. Employees who feel listened to and respected are more likely to exceed their work mandates and say positive things about their workplace.
Feedback Encouragement & Implementation
By encouraging your team to provide feedback and implementing said feedback in the workplace, you are once again showing your respect. It becomes clear that you value your employees’ input and want them to do well. Encouraging feedback but never following through has the opposite effect and can cause team members to lose faith in what you say. Rather than becoming the team leader who cries wolf, try to implement one of every three feedback suggestions. It also helps to implement feedback from different team members so one doesn’t feel favored, which can cause jealousy and disrupt the work environment.
If you are interested in receiving feedback but need more information, ask open-ended questions that invite conversation, such as “Tell me more?”, “Can you discuss that concept in detail?” and “Explain that further.”
Individuals with impressive leadership communication skills have the ability to adapt. They change their communication styles as needed to speak with different groups or employees one-on-one. For example, it might be in the leader’s interest to use simple language and basic analogies with one group of employees and more formal language with another. There are also times when casual language is necessary for light of the group or occasion. Becoming a communication chameleon is something that can prove invaluable in a variety of situations, such as diffusing tension among various employees or welcoming new hires to the corporate fold.
Quality leadership communication requires clarity at all times. Employees have to know what you are talking about, otherwise, they might do their work incorrectly or keep asking questions. A telltale sign of poor communication is when a team member continues asking questions about a task or project because you are not being clear enough. Aim for clear, succinct sentences that do not trigger a half-dozen or more questions. Both you and your team will save time and frustration, allowing you to move forward with your workload that day.
Empathizing with your team does not mean you are their friend. It simply means you understand where they are coming from on a human level. For example, say an employee got a call from their child’s school saying the little one has stomach flu and is throwing up. This employee needs to leave immediately to pick up their child and take him or her to the doctor but is in the middle of a project. They promise to come in early the next morning to finish the project. Empathizing with this team member’s current needs as a parent means allowing them to leave and come in early the next day. Not allowing them to leave is the exact opposite and can result in sloppy work because the employee is distracted and worried about their child.
Effective leadership communication is never judgmental. No one likes to feel judged, whether at work or anywhere else, so those who think their bosses continually pass judgment become increasingly uncomfortable and tense. It is your job to stay as objective as you can on all business matters, which creates a more welcoming and stress-free commercial environment. If you feel you cannot be non-judgmental for any reason, have another business leader take over the project, assignment, or employee conflict resolution session.
Nonverbal Signal Observation
There are numerous types of nonverbal communication, including the aforementioned body language. Such communication also includes facial expressions, gestures, posture, breathing, and muscle tension. Even tone of voice can be considered nonverbal communication. The ability to pick up on these types of communication and interpret them correctly helps you determine what your employees, affiliates, fellow managers, clients, and everyone else who walks into your place of business mean. For example, an employee’s annoyed facial expressions, heavy breathing, and tense muscles might tell you that they do not like the team member they are working with and are best placed on another assignment to avoid conflict.
Most people can tell when others are being disingenuous. Authenticity does a lot for your reputation as a business leader because it tells your employees and fellow managers that they can trust you. They will also appreciate the genuine remarks and suggestions you make because they won’t feel they are being lied to or otherwise dealing with a “fake” individual. Authenticity and transparency are two sides of the same business token, so focus on both to improve your communication efforts. And if you don’t have something genuine to say, don’t say it. No one will fault you for making fluffed-up comments that are challenging to take seriously.
Effective leadership communication looks like many things, including being visible to your staff. If your office door is perpetually shut and you rarely “walk among the people,” you are doing them and yourself a disservice. Staying visible means you are accessible, whether there is a question that needs answering or anything else your team requires help with. Visibility also helps your employees form professional connections with you and feel like they are part of something bigger. This does not mean you have to walk around talking to everyone every day, it just means that your office door should be open some of the time. Biweekly walkabouts also help you stay connected to your team and with what is going on at the business.
There are times when telling stories proves helpful. The ability to recount a good story that applies to a current project or assignment can stay in the minds of your team members, especially when there are vivid details that stick in their heads. The stories you tell might remind employees of the company’s vision, current objective, or goal. Mission statements and similar documents generally do not have the same effect. If you want to ensure your story really stays in the minds and hearts of your team, consider creating a fun slideshow or video. Making your team smile is another way to keep your point fresh in their heads.
Any good business leader is generally prepared. They do the necessary research, create PowerPoint or other presentation materials, and can easily address any questions or concerns. Preparation shows that you take the work seriously and that your team should too. Being prepared on a routine basis is also a time-saver because you can issue new assignment instructions or other guidelines quickly. Employees get to work that much faster, which improves productivity and your business’s bottom line. Conversely, if you are never prepared, it becomes difficult to win respect among your peers and employees. Business communication can suffer as a whole, as can productivity. And while everyone fails to prepare sufficiently sometimes, it should not become a regular occurrence. People will start to wonder what is going on and might start gossiping! Keeping yourself off the business gossip wheel as much as possible is always a good thing.
Developing effective leadership communication skills is not an overnight process. It takes time and dedication, but is a tool you can use in and out of the workplace for the rest of your life! Be patient with yourself and know that you are on a journey that is well worth the effort.
If you or your team could use some extra communication training, get in touch to learn how we can assist! We look forward to helping you create a stronger, healthier, and more productive workplace.