Being a manager is easy; so says many hourly employees. “They get to sit in their offices and boss us around”. “They get the big bucks for doing nothing”. “What does he know about my job?” Seems like you need to improve your management communication skills.
I disagree with these statements except the last one. Many in management believe they know better than the “line” employees that actually do the job each day. Just because one has risen to the ranks of management doesn’t mean they are competent in each discipline that make up their areas of responsibility.
So how does a one effectively manage a team of employees when he/she doesn’t fully understand the nuances of each position? Is it more than just delegation of tasks or a complete strategy to improve overall communication? I say it’s the latter.
Here are 5 strategies managers should use to enhance and improve their communication skills.
Expectation of Performance
Clear and unambiguous direction must be given to each employee so they may know under what criteria they are expected to perform.
A personal and one-on-one meeting is the first step to take when sharing duties, responsibilities and expected performance metrics for any new hire. With this as the framework, an ongoing evaluation and assessment can later be undertaken to measure abilities and skills of the employee. During this phase performance can be adjusted to align with personal or departmental goals.
Proper training for the skills needed is conducted during this phase then the employee is set to start working.
“We can’t expect what we don’t inspect” is a phrase I learned many years ago. It is a fact that observing your team while performing their duties is the best way to gauge their competence and adherence to procedures. Only then can we fully measure their performance against acceptable norms and expected performance.
Once we have gathered our information it’s time for the next step in the process.
Ask the Why
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, management will assume they know what’s best to perform at a specific position. Numerous hours of training has gone into developing the performance manual, training programs and implementation of duties. There is nothing left to improve on.
But is that truly the case?
Just as product and processes change over time, so too do the potential methods of performing a specific task. Is it possible that the inherent experience of an employee performing the job for 40+ hours per week may lead to a better way to do it?
Of course, unless you subscribe to the quote commonly attributed to Albert Einstein; “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. Click To Tweet
Ask the employee their opinions of the required steps and procedures needed to perform the job.
- Can he/she think of a better way of doing it?
- Based on his daily tasks, does he believe there a way to product the same product and quality but do so in a more cost effective way?
Management should uphold an “open door policy” where every employee may provide suggestions and opinions of business goals and how to best achieve them.
It’s very revealing what a fresh pair of eyes can tell us.
As the employee is becoming more proficient with his tasks and responsibilities management can now offer informed guidance and added direction to the employee.
If the employee has offered a reasonable and appropriate suggestion for a method(s) of improvement now is the time to discuss its possible implementation along with his overall performance status.
Provide a revised expectation of performance as needed then let the employee immerse himself in the job and revel in his willingness to achieve full competence and proficiency.
The final strategy is one that is most forgotten.
Few of the above strategies can be met with great success without placing the “right” employee in the right position. He must possess the following characteristics:
- An open mind
- Be coachable
- Appropriate soft skills
- Willing to take constructive criticism
- The temperament for the position and its responsibilities
- Basic abilities to perform the task(s) required
- Understand that the outcome is dependent on each employee performing to his full potential.
Company performance will suffer without the best possible person in the right position. But, when each is placed where best suited, there will be little need for these strategies. Your past managerial communication skills will have already proven their value.