Communication skills every manager should master

Being a great communicator is important, not only for coaching and giving clear guidelines but also for building trust and employee engagement. Here are some key elements of communication that impact performance.

Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, keeping up effective communication within your team is an absolute must. A study from Gallup found that the most highly engaged employees communicate with their managers on a daily basis.

When I started my career, I briefly worked in a sales team where everyone had an extremely high target to meet each month. There was not much guidance from the top. Each person tried to meet their target on their own. We spent all our time talking to clients, and hardly with each other. We worked really hard but things just didn’t happen.

In hindsight, I can see what a dysfunctional team we were. We could have made it a million times easier for ourselves if we had communicated better.

All good managers know that communication is vital for their team’s performance. But do you know the key elements of communication that impact performance?

Energy

Energy characterizes the nature of exchanges among your team members. This includes frequency, scope, and mood. Think about how your team communicates and ask yourself the following questions:

Frequency

Scope

Mood

You are trying to gauge the flow of conversations and how people react during these discussions. By paying attention to these interactions you can adapt your meetings, way of working on a 1-to-1 basis and as a team and create stronger relationships. Remember, it doesn’t have to be about work all the time. Sometimes the most valuable information is exchanged over an informal coffee break.

Engagement

Engagement reflects the level at which each team member is involved in a conversation. Communication isn’t just about the words we say, it also includes the way we say it and body language. Just being present at a meeting or during a 1-on-1 doesn’t always mean you’re actively engaged. Follow these tips to help you fully engage yourself in workplace discussions and send the appropriate signals to others:

Body Language

Remember face-to-face communication is the most effective way to get your point across. Do you notice that enthusiasm is much more infectious when you talk with people face-to-face? The same goes with excitement, joy or any other types of positive energy. Being able to read people's nonverbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions, can give us a much deeper understanding of the message they’re transmitting. Make your nonverbal cues more effective by:

With Skype or Google Hangout calls, physical clues are limited to tones and, if the internet connection is good, facial expressions. Therefore, it is much more difficult to detect and influence the level of engagement in a Skype conference call compared with a meeting in person.

If you talk with a colleague on Slack or Hipchat you won’t be able to read their body language. Think twice about messaging someone on slack if you want to start an important discussion. Of course, when you’re managing a team of remote workers you won’t always have the opportunity to speak face-to-face. See our tips on how to have 1-on-1s with remote team members and how to build a virtual feedback culture.

If you found this article useful, check out this eBook on how to optimize feedback to motivate, engage and develop your team.

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