By: First Union
Effective Communication Strategies for Business Leaders
Communication really is at the core of what you do as a business leader. Beyond just instructing and speaking though, communication is about establishing a rapport; you do this through body language, tone, and nonverbal cues. If you think of your company and its team players as a machine, you might gain a clearer picture of how critical communication is. You must send the appropriate signals so that the machine's various parts know how to respond, and do so willingly and happily. It takes some nurturing, patience and empathy to be able to communicate with your employees effectively, which is why we wanted to convey some useful strategies and tips for strengthening your communication skills when it comes to your at-work performance.
Often one of the biggest breakdowns in communication comes with expectations. According to recent surveys, many employees have no idea what is expected of them, not really. You need to be direct right from the very beginning. Clearly define your expectations. You want to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The other thing to keep in mind as far as expectations are that they do need to be realistic. Having lofty ambitions when it comes to your company is a good thing, but then again you can't make it impossible for your staff to reach the goals you set forth.
Also, remember that each team player is an individual; meaning, each has their own specific talents and traits. Being able to tailor expectations accordingly can go a long way toward more effective communication. You want to develop relationships with all of your personnel. You want to create a bond based on trust and honesty. This in turn will make the members of your team far more comfortable than if you just treated them the same across the board. And of course, greater comfortability means greater productivity.
Communication Through Collaboration
When you strengthen the lines of communication you also strengthen your team's ability to work well together, be it on a project, sales initiative, organizational change, whatever may come up. In order to achieve such a result, you have to develop set processes. In part, this is accomplished through various collaboration tools. Whether digital or some other such collaborative efforts, this will help as far as scheduling out project milestones, instilling a greater sense of organization, even something as simple as creating to-do lists.
You might also think about engaging in team building exercises toward this collaborative end. Or perhaps even set up group social events. Anything you can do to foster that "family" mentality will help!
Leading by Example
Showing that you will do what it takes for the benefit of the company and the benefit of the team goes a long way toward establishing those crucial connections with your staff members. It is demonstrating that you refuse to play by your own set of rules while they play by another—rather, you are all working together for the greater good.
As a leader, you are also an influencer of sorts. Your actions inspire the same within your employees. A few things that you might consider in your decision-making process which will make it more evident than ever that you are a big believer in leading by example:
Ensure that your decisions are focused around doing what is best for the company as a whole.
Let your team members know that you genuinely care about how they feel and what they think. Empathy goes a long way.
Look for the positive. Yes, things may go wrong from time to time, but paying attention to the good and stressing this over the bad is crucial.
Listening is Very Effective
While most may not think of communicating and listening as synonymous, they actually are. In fact, listening is probably one of your most important communication strategies.
And we're not just talking about hearing, but honestly listening to. This means absorbing what an employee said, taking it to heart, acting on it. You convey this through body language and through your responses.
In order to become a better listener, you might try avoiding judgment. Also, always let someone finish talking before you interject. It is important to pay attention to the entirety of what someone says. And even something as basic as how you pay attention. Face it, we live in a digitally driven world, which means our cell phones are almost always at hand. If while someone is trying to talk to you, you're scrolling or texting or checking email, this is not the best way to listen. In fact, it is one of the worst things you can do. Listening is part of showing that you do earnestly care, and so it certainly a skill you want to try and perfect.
Engaging People One-On-One
While you will have team meetings, it is also a good idea to leverage those one on one moments. Especially for instance, when it comes to something like offering feedback as far as job performance. No one likes to be criticized in front of their peers, and so perhaps a one on one meeting is a better idea for this sort of thing.
Plus, with personal meetings with team members, you cultivate your working relationship with them. You get to know more about their attitude, their style, their ambitions and also you have a chance to get their feedback as well. Certainly, they have an opinion about the company and maybe even the way in which it's run. Take the time to find out their thoughts.
One on one meetings helps you to establish trust and also demonstrate to your employees that yes, you are invested in their future with the company, and you'd like more than anything to see them be successful because their success means the business's success.
There are most definitely nuances when it comes to work-related communication strategies. And especially when dealing with individuals, you as the leader have to adapt to the various communicating styles among your employees. Whether you have to be more direct with some, more empathetic toward others, you need to get to know your team players and consequently respond accordingly. Your company's success depends on your ability to communicate well—make no mistake about it. Investing the time, patience and effort into improving communication amongst your team are well worth it. At First Union, we love investing in our clients and helping them make their businesses better. Call today and find out how we can help!