Take a moment to recall your favorite boss. What was it about them that made them so great to work for? Among other qualities, this person likely recognized your contributions, established a personal relationship with you, and set clear, achievable goals for you and your team.
All of these attributes boil down to a single skill that every great manager has: effective communication. Communication is arguably the central pillar of an organization’s success, and a leader’s ability to communicate can directly impact the performance of their teams.
For many employees, a manager’s ability to communicate is the deciding factor in whether they feel engaged at work. In a study that polled employees on their bosses’ communication skills (or lack thereof), a resounding 63% said that management did not effectively recognize their achievements. Nearly as many respondents also said that their employer did not give clear directions.
If you are a leader in your organization, it’s well worth your time and effort to improve your communication skills by practicing the following strategies in the new year:
Take Your Communication Online
In the year 2020, so much of what we do at work is through the world-wide-web, and communication is in no way immune to the internet craze. The modern business views internet-based technologies as the ideal method for connecting with their team members and sharing information. This is because, unlike older communication tools, internet-based platforms provide greater accessibility, are compatible with multiple types of devices and allow for conversations to occur in real-time.
A few specific tools to get you started uploading your communication to the internet include:
- Cloud unified communications: Unified communications tools take the best of your business phones, video conferencing, team chatting and more and combine them under a single cloud-based platform.
- Internal social networks: Although social media is typically seen as a form of external engagement, private social media networks for your team are an effective tool for connecting disparate departments and reinforcing a dynamic work culture.
- Intranet work forums: If you’ve ever felt that your business needed a designated place for employees to share their innovations or ask work-related questions, an intranet system might be the answer for you.
- Employee satisfaction software: One of the most valuable assets in the leadership toolbox, employee engagement or satisfaction software helps management teams facilitate conversations around happiness, wellbeing, motivation and performance in the office.
Embrace the Smartphone
Once seen as more of a distraction than a source of productivity, smartphones are powerful devices that can revitalize your approach to communicating with your employees. Part of this shift can be attributed to the increasing demand for a mobile workforce, with business travel, work-from-home benefits and on-site services becoming more common. It also has to do with communication efficiency—sending a text is easier and faster than emailing when time is of the essence.
The most significant reason, however, to adopt smartphone usage into your organization is that your employees are likely already using their personal phones to help them at work. 60% of employees use apps during work-related tasks, and 71% dedicate at least two hours per week accessing company information on their mobile devices. And regardless of how you need your smartphone to communicate with others, there’s likely already an application to help you get there (from inclusivity apps to chat platforms).
Speak (And Listen) with EQ
So often business leaders master the technical proficiencies of their job but don’t consider the soft skills needed to connect with the people they supervise. That’s why many organizations now recognize the value of emotional intelligence when hiring and training their leadership teams. EQ measures a person’s ability to empathize with and understand the emotions of others. It’s easy to see why leaders with higher EQs are better suited for inspiring their teams and bringing people together.
If connecting emotionally with your fellow employees is something that challenges you, you might be wondering exactly how you can better incorporate emotional intelligence into workplace conversations.
The first and most important step is effective listening. You should refrain from interruptions or off-hand remarks to demonstrate to the other person that you value their thoughts and are open to opinions outside of your own. Emotionally intelligent listening also requires reflective communication, or adjusting your body language, tone and choice of words to suit each individual employee.
By engaging with your team members on a case-by-case basis, you’ll be able to fortify your personal relationships, understand what motivates or inhibits their work and discover how you can better tailor your leadership strategies to better serve the needs of the people that define your company.