What Makes a Great People Manager? Part 4: Communicator
No one has ever complained about being too much "in the know". Have you ever heard of anyone quitting a job because they were "way to well informed". Or has anyone ever complained about having too much transparency in their company and being too involved. Not that I've ever heard either.
But I've definitely experienced a lot of the opposite. "No one knows what's going on around here", "no one tells me anything", "I'm always in the dark". Sound familiar? I thought so.
Communication is vital for any organization's success. People have to know where they're going, why and all the necessary daily information to allow them to do their jobs.
You Talky as the Leader
Yep, if you're a leader, you're going to have to talk. Honestly, the style doesn't matter as long as it informs, inspires, motivates and lifts up your people.
The first level of communication you'll have to do is one-on-one with individuals. You'll need to be articulate, clear, understandable and relatable. First this requires something seemingly contradictory, what I mentioned in Part 3...empathetic listening. That's right. In order to be a better communicator we have to first listen. Listening helps us to understand our audience better so we then know how to best connect.
And then before delivering a message think of the point or purpose. That will ground you if you get questions, concerns or pushback. Because then you can redirect back to the point and purpose of the message. For example, if its constructive feedback you're giving then you can share with you team member that you care about them and the team but what they're doing right now is not great performance and holding everyone back. It may sound harsh but wouldn't you want to know? I was floored to recently read that 2/3 of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees! No wonder so many people feel uninformed. And if we don't, who will! We have to commit ourselves as people managers to communicate with our people no matter how uncomfortable, challenging or time consuming it might seem. If your intent is to help, serve and care for your team they'll realize it and will respond accordingly.
I don' know this for sure but I'm willing to venture to say that public speaking is one of the most common fears out there. Unfortunately, you as the leader don't get that luxury. You're going to need to address at the least the people you lead in a group setting, probably pretty often.
Thankfully it's very similar to individual communication in a lot of ways. First there's understanding your audience, knowing what drives them, inspires them and their needs. Once you know those things, you can better tailor a message to touch on those needs but while sharing something you may need too. In order to do that well, planning and preparation is even more vital for group communication since the nerves will most likely be in overdrive. Take the time to bullet point out your key thoughts/themes.
And then belt it out with confidence. I did some acting in high school and college and little did I realize how much it would help me in communicating confidently to a group of people. Lean on any experiences you had like that to build your skill and confidence in public speaking.
Build A Communication Ecosystem
You can't be the only talker. You need to build a team of talkers (not just gabbers and jabbers) in order to have a well informed team and organization.
Email, phone calls, team meetings, huddles, communication boards, newsletters, Facebook, GroupMe. Do all of those and you're good. Drop mic.
Kidding of course. I hear a lot of leaders ask, which of these is best? And the answer is all of them all the time! Use them all, just for different things at different times for different people and groups. And get your team to decide what works best for them. If they have a say in deciding what tools to use and how, then they're more likely to embrace and actually use them.
And then most likely you will have to do a lot of the heavy lifting at first to use the platforms, especially the newer ones until more people start adopting. I started a Facebook group with the last organization I led and you'd think with a mostly younger crowd they would jump right on it, but that wasn't the case. They had to realize that it was safe and valuable and after I and our leadership team starting posting, it soon took hold and helped to dramatically improve direct communication across the entire organization and made it feel much smaller.
This is the most important part. What most people don't realize is that they can make themselves and others more informed on their own! Unless you are a micro-managing, control freak of a manger, I imagine you don't care if Sally shares with Bob that the latest process in another part of the team or organization is changing. Why have it go through you?
The more you push your team to share information and communication more broadly then the more it will just become second nature.
I just finished reading a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. In the book, Paul shared a story about the power of an organization, Alcoa, that started focusing on safety habits and it ended up transforming every other aspect of the company, including and especially communication and information, and thus performance in all other areas of the company just simply by focusing on the communication habits of the everyone in company.
Moving on to Part 5
Part 5 will be being productive and results oriented, both you individually and with and through your team. So see you next week!
Thanks for reading!