Communication is one of the integral and most important parts of leadership success. Communication in leadership covers many factors; communicating ideas, changes or information in a concise, understandable way, communicating with respect, having strong written communication skills, organising and running meetings in an effective manner, making sure you have enough face-time with your team… to name just a few! If you get your communication wrong then you will find your team and even whole organisation is not moving ahead as you would like and your employees may even look for a job elsewhere. You need to be well equipped with spotting any warning signs that you are not communicating effectively and as Peter Lamotte, who wrote an article on this topic on TrainingIndustry states, ‘busy executives aren’t always conscious of the fact that employees aren’t getting what they’re saying’….
If you are faced with an uncomfortable situation and find yourself not wanting any chance of confrontation, so avoid approaching this ‘head on’, then you will end up with a very confused employee and an unclear situation and course of action. As difficult or awkward you may find it, you need to make sure you outline clearly what the situation is, the impact it is having and discuss with your team member how you can rectify the situation.
You need to keep your emotions in check. No matter how frustrated or angered you are, losing control of your emotions will only hinder the situation. You may have avoided confronting a situation, as mentioned above, and then as it all becomes too much because you have put off addressing this before, the employee is bombarded with weeks or months of withheld frustration. As Halley Bock, CEO and president of Fierce, Inc outlines, there are two ways which letting your emotions get out-of-hand do not help: “no matter how valid one’s complaints, one always looks a little crazy when they lose control of their emotions…” and secondly, your employee will be so overwhelmed that there is no way they will be able to break through it all!
Failing to inform employees efficiently and ahead of time of important changes is very dangerous. Substantial changes require a lot of managers’ time and it is therefore easy to fail to keep employees updated, and as rumours spread among a team about unspoken, upcoming changes, it results in employees with damaged morale and lack of acceptance or enthusiasm. Keep your team well-informed of important changes ahead of time so they can prepare, plan and manage this.
“The more power you have, the less you’ll hear about problems,” says Steve Robbins, CEO of the consulting and coaching firm Stever Robbins, Inc. As you progress up the career ladder you may find you do not hear about problems until later on and employees may feel less comfortable coming to you with issues. To manage this, make sure you keep communication lines open with your employees, ensure they know they can speak to you about any issues and have regular catchups with them. When problems are raised, ensure you manage it effectively so that your employees know to feel comfortable approaching you.
Some business issues can be very complex and more difficult to communicate and understand, therefore, some business leaders may result in the approach of over-simplifying it all and doing this to the extent that the key points are not even addressed. However, as Peter rightly states ‘The more employees understand, the more motivated they are to help address the problem themselves.’ You need to take on-board the element of your role as a manager of helping your team to understand situations and problems – sharing these may open up new and different perspectives as well!
If you spot any of these warnings signs in your communication, then make sure you manage these straight away to stop them getting out-of-control and damaging employee relationships. These are simple but effective tweaks that will make an impactful difference on your communication!