One of the first things I learned when I became a supervisor was the importance of communicating to my staff in a way each person could understand. Through the years I have learned the best way to maintain positive morale and increase employment engagement is to over communicate to my teams. This skill did not happen overnight and I still work on this every day. I have managed hundreds of people in my career and I still have lessons learned when it comes to communicating.
What is the Big Deal?
Communication will make or break ANY organization. When people are left in the dark, they stop trusting their leaders and they eventually leave. Limited communication starts the rumor mill and causes panic. I once read “Communication is the true work of leadership”. This is so profound to me because it is one of the most important aspects of being a leader, yet one of the hardest skills to conquer. People need to know what is expected of them and they will look to their leaders for this information.
Communication During Times of Change
I have seen organizations fall apart because of the lack of communication, especially when there is change. Some employees do not care about the change, but most do. It is important to explain the vision, the goals and rationale for the changes being made. It is also important to engage employees by asking them questions. Employees want to know what the change means for them. Even if updates are not available, it is important to communicate that because employees want to know. Be open and honest about what the future holds. They will respect you for that and you will gain their trust.
It is Not Easy
I have struggled with communication my entire life; however, through daily life skill practice I continue to strive to be the best communicator. I understand and know the importance of this complicated skill. One way I cope is to write out talking points to ensure I don’t miss important pieces of my presentations. I take time to let messages process or digest. Most of my processing happens when I am sleeping. I will wake up with thoughts or epiphanies from meetings or conversations that were held the day prior. My problem solving skills go into full force as well. I have to make sure I have my phone available so I can send myself emails detailing my thoughts and go back to sleep. I will take this information and use it to handle what my brain is processing. This has been proven to help me communicate up, down and across the organization.
If communicating is a skill you inspire to approve upon, consider joining your local Toast Masters chapter. Other ways to improve your skill is to study public speakers, record and evaluate yourself giving a speech and be open to feedback. This will not only help you build confidence as a communicator, but it will help your audience understand and trust what you have to say.