Communicating with your employees is the foundation of your job as a leader. Your goal is to help your staff understand what they need to do and how they need to do it to achieve their own goals and those of the company. The way you approach these discussions is key. Leaders should be kind, empathetic and respectful, helping guide employees instead of laying down strict rules about what is and isn’t permissible. Here are a few tips to help you become a better communicator:
“Focusing only on the speakers shows respect and keeps everyone engaged.”
Focus Only On Those Involved
When communicating with employees, try not to be distracted by other people around you or the slew of emails popping up on your smartphone. Focusing only on the speakers shows respect for the people involved and keeps everyone engaged in the conversation. This is why the frequent check-ins involved in ongoing performance management are so beneficial. They narrow the focus down to individual employees, aiming everyone’s attention to the employee and not the whole team.
Conversations are a two-way street, not a chance for management and leaders to launch into a monologue while the employee listens meekly. Whenever you provide a comment or suggestion, ask your employee for their thoughts on the matter. For example, imagine members of your sales department missed their goal for the month. You can offer them a few solutions to do better next time and ask for their thoughts on the matter. Do they find these comments helpful or achievable? Are they prepared to improve next month, or do they need additional help?
This also means you must listen without interjecting when employees vocalize their own comments and criticisms. If a person says he or she doesn’t feel supported or empowered by his or her position, don’t take it personally. Instead, ask your employee what it is he or she needs from you and use this feedback to improve. Doing so is a sign of respect and shows you care about your employee’s opinions and well-being.
“Only 43 percent of respondents said they wanted praise and recognition over correction.”
Discuss What Is and Isn’t Working
We all want to avoid telling someone that they’re doing a bad job, but addressing poor performance is the only way to see any improvement. Plus, as a poll by the Harvard Business Review revealed, employees prefer corrective feedback. When asked which they’d rather receive, only 43 percent chose praise and recognition over correction.
This doesn’t mean you can come to a check-in with a list of failings, however. Respondents overwhelmingly noted that negative feedback or redirection improved performance as long as it was delivered in an appropriate, constructive manner.
Follow Up On Previous Conversations
Once you understand an employee’s goals, you should refer back to them in future discussions. This shows that you truly listened to the prior conversation and you’re actively invested in the development of your staff. You and your employee can discuss previous goals and strategies, then see how these compare to current ones. You can also make note of any prior concerns and see if things have improved.
Great communication skills are an essential quality of leadership. They allow you to truly connect with employees, gaining their respect and getting them actively involved in improving their skills and progressing their careers. With these tips, you’ll be able to work with your employees to help in their careers and further the needs of your business.