One of the main skills you need to have as a manager is the ability to communicate effectively. This is easier for some people than it is for others, but effective communication is a skill that can be improved with practice. Here are six tips for more effectively communicating as a manager.
1. Make Sure There Are Multiple Communication Avenues Available
All organizations communicate internally with their employees and externally with their customers, vendors and business partners. As a manager, you should be aware of the ways your organization communicates internally and externally, as well as the tools that are used to do so. Common internal communications tools include business VoIP, email and instant messaging apps. Common external communications tools include social media, surveys and newsletters. Once you familiarize yourself with these tools, make sure your employees are aware of the avenues they have at their disposal to contact you when they need to.
2. Develop a Communications Strategy
One of the best ways to communicate effectively is to standardize your internal and external communications. Make sure your communications strategy is aligned with your organization's mission and goals. Your strategy should be top-down but incorporate feedback from employees at all levels of the communication. It should also outline ways to ensure your communications are consistent, credible and able to be customized while sticking to your brand image.
3. Be Aware of Legal Constraints
Managers must be aware of any legal constraints regarding internal and external communications. These constraints may affect how the information you want to communicate may be delivered or when you're allowed to deliver it. For example, if your team is working on a project that includes or utilizes sensitive information, you need to make sure your employees are aware that they must keep that information safe and protected, which means they need to be careful what they include in their internal and external communications.
4. Respond in a Timely Manner
Striving to always respond in a timely manner is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to communicate effectively as a manager. It's also one of the easiest strategies to allow yourself to fall by the wayside. As a manager, you should try to be available as much as possible, but also make your employees aware that there will be times when you need to be offline or out of the office and that there will be times when you're too busy to respond immediately. You can do this by sending notices ahead of time, setting away messages and setting up a team calendar.
5. Use Internal and External Communications Appropriately
You need to be able to effectively communicate with your team, your own supervisors, and external recipients. This means learning how to communicate with each group of recipients slightly differently. It also means making sure you always have an awareness of your audience and the needs and expectations of your audience members. To your team, you're an authority figure. To your supervisors and other managers, you're more of a peer. To external recipients, you're acting as a representative of your organization. Make sure the way you talk and write, as well as your body language, reflect the role you're currently acting in.
6. Communicate with Your Employees Compassionately
As a manager, you'll be required to balance your employees' needs and wishes with the broader needs or requirements of your organization. This means you need to compromise with your employees but also advocate for them. Balancing these two aspects means being compassionate toward your employees' needs. Make sure they're aware they can come to you with concerns or questions without fear of judgment. Focus on constructive criticism when you give feedback. Avoid minimizing or failing to assist with employees' issues and questions.
As a manager, you must be able to handle multiple types of communication that often overlap. Make sure you understand the common modes of communication used both internally and externally at your company. Look for ways to continually improve your communication skills as you advance your career.