Whether you’re managing a company over three time zones or simply trying to run a meeting with three co-workers, the art of communication is a vital one in management. As managers know, simply stating facts and expecting people to respond to them rarely works. You need to develop a sense of strong morale in addition to creating clearly achievable goals. Holding up vague, oversize goals in an attempt to motivate employees will only make managers look foolish or uninformed. Similarly, a draconian approach (“Do this or ELSE!”) may work in the short-term, but will ultimately drive away talented members of the staff, which causes its own set of problems. So, what is the mark of an excellent communicator?
Managers need to understand both the goals of the company and the motivations of each individual employee before formulating their statements. In a sense, managers must communicate goals by bridging the gap between a larger social goal and a very specific personal one. This can be difficult, especially if the manager knows that a particular employee is interested primarily in personal advancement, not the longer-term fortunes of the company. In many cases, working one-on-one with these personally motivated employees may be the best way to align both their ambition and the company’s needs without adversely impacting either.
The vast majority of employees respond to having their ideas recognized, even if they are not necessarily implemented. The art of communication for management involves occasionally publicly recognizing the contributions of employees before putting forth a new initiative or plan of action. When employees feel that their contributions are being valued, they are more likely to respond positively to a new plan of action, even if the plan of action doesn’t necessarily correspond with their suggestions or ideas. In this case, by publicly acknowledging contributions, a manager is fostering morale and, in the long-term, possibly sowing the seeds of genuinely useful innovation.
Whatever they do, managers must never appear to be condescending or petty. A manager must provide a role model of excellent behavior to employees. A petty or openly insecure manager will only succeed in impeding communication, not encouraging it.