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Get Your Point Across: Effective Communication Tips for Employers
As a business owner, you alone may be at the helm - but your vision needs to be dispersed throughout your organization. Being the boss requires that you effectively articulate your big picture to your employees. Having strong communication skills can help you to keep your team informed and up to date on the work at hand.
It should come as no surprise that a breakdown of communication between employer and employees can be calamitous. Even small miscommunications or misunderstandings can lead to unnecessary strife and delays. To keep the gears greased so expectations, goals and standards are met, make certain that you, as the employer, are communicating to your employees in the most effective ways.
Here are several suggestions for improving your communication skills when addressing your employees:
Determine and use your most effective communication means
Are you more comfortable in face-to-face situations where you can speak your ideas with ease and clarity? Bosses who possess this skill are advised to use it to their advantage by holding in-person meetings and using visual and auditory aids in cementing ideas in your team’s minds. If small group or individual meetings are necessary, these too should be held in person if this type of communication is your most effective. The meetings don’t need to be formal (unless that’s your business’ style) but they should be conducted in a forum that makes it easy for your audience to listen and absorb the information you provide.
If you’re an employer who is more comfortable putting words in writing than in-person delivery, choose to send memos or emails to convey your messages. Well-written communication has the advantage of providing a complete record of what was expressed for future reference. If writing is not your forte, however, email communication can be clunky, unclear and frankly, confusing.
Provide context for your words
No one appreciates words coming at them for no apparent reason. Begin any communication by explaining its purpose. Tell your employees why this information is important or relevant. This will help them tune into what you’re saying and incorporate it into their own context.
Provide examples for clarity
Rather than relying on simply instructive words to paint a picture, provide examples to help your team visualize the details and scope of what you’re talking about. In the absence of examples provided by you, each employee will be forced to insert their own subjective ideas upon your words, which can vary wildly from your actual vision. Examples can take the form of analogies, images, graphs...any idea-specific embodiment of what you actually want them to understand.
Clearly define expectations
Be as specific as possible when setting expectations such as details, dates, quantities and the like. An expression such as, “As soon as possible,” leaves a lot to subjectivity. Does it mean as soon as humanly possible? As soon as the employee can fit it into his or her schedule? As soon as it can be accomplished through normal channels? Such ambiguity in instructions can cause misunderstandings and the appearance of poor performance. Give your employees the gift of specifics to help them perform to your expectations.
Employ direct communication
Communicate directly to the people or person you need to, rather than relying on a third party to deliver the message. Involving another person invites the opportunity for miscommunication or even a lack of authority in the message. Take the effort to deliver communications personally to ensure the employee gains a thorough understanding of what you are saying.
Include emotional components, if appropriate
It is absolutely appropriate to include emotional components in your communications. You are human, as are your employees; to avoid elements of enthusiasm, disappointment or empathy, for example, can seem cold and distant. Rather than coming across as weak or unprofessional, an emotional component brings humanity and a sense of purpose to your message. Employees will become more engaged with a message with an emotional element.
Invite dialogue and collaboration
Your team doesn’t appreciate being simply spoken (or written) to. Since communication is a two-way street, it’s prudent that you do your share of the listening, too. Invite your employees’ feedback and insight into your conversations. A collaborative atmosphere encourage active participation in projects and sparks employee enthusiasm. The intel you gather from those working in your business day-in and day-out can prove invaluable to cementing the effectiveness of your team.
Becoming aware of ways to improve your communication can lead to a tighter bond with your employees and help clarify your ultimate vision for your business. As you can see, there are a number of small implementations that can make a big impact in your professional communications. Strong, clear, meaningful communication with your staff will help your business to run more smoothly and effectively.
How do your employer communication skills measure up?
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