Improving Communication In the Workplace: 3 Effective Leadership Communication Strategies
Improving communication in the workplace can affect the bottom line. And it all starts at the top.
Leaders set the tone for the organization. Employees look to leaders for guidance, advancement opportunities, and model their behavior.
Hire good leaders, set them up to succeed, and the profits should roll in, right?
It’s not that simple, unfortunately. Where do leaders typically fall short?
The first is communicating a vision. Only 50% of employees agree that their team leader effectively creates a vision for the future of the team, according to a global survey by Gartner, Inc. How can you succeed when you don’t know where you are going or what success looks like?
The second is giving employees a chance to grow and use their capabilities. Unfortunately, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 50% of respondents feel like they “just have a job.” How can you expect an employee to feel engaged when he or she isn’t using their talents?
The third is giving employees feedback. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 managers avoid giving constructive feedback to their employees for fear of the employee’s reaction, according to Forbes contributor Mark Murphy. How can you expect employees to follow the path if you’re letting them wander aimlessly?
“Leadership is having a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and talented people working together.”
-Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company
That is why improving communication in the workplace is critical. Here are three effective leadership communication strategies:
Clearly communicate vision and secure buy-in at every level
Employees must understand how their individual work contributes to the team and the overall company vision. Teams must understand how their success contributes to another team’s success. Provided individuals and teams are synchronized and understand how they collaborate and affect each other, the company can improve efficiency, improve productivity, and subsequently increase revenue.
Develop a coherent strategy
Knowing where you’re going is step one. Knowing how to get there is step two. To engage employees or team members, great leaders must create a coherent strategic plan for the organization or individual project. They must collaborate with their team to set goals, layout how the process will work, assign responsibilities, and set manageable deadlines for completing those tasks. And where possible, they must give their employees room to stretch and grow their capabilities.
Leaders create the conditions where people choose new actions. The choices are voluntary. They’re made by people who see a new landscape, new opportunities and new options. You can’t make people change. But you can create an environment where they choose to.
-Seth Godin, Author, Entrepreneur
Providing specific, actionable feedback
Step three is providing consistent feedback to ensure everyone is sticking to the plan and communicating course corrections, as necessary. Employees who get twice the number of one-on-one meetings with their manager relative to their peers are 67 percent less likely to be disengaged.
To optimize performance, leaders and employees should meet quarterly, at minimum, according to the American Management Association, and preferably once a month, according to a field study by F. Asís Martínez-Jerez at the University of Notre Dame. In a study Martínez-Jerez conducted with insurance professionals, meeting once a month to provide feedback improved performance on the company’s key complaint measure by 46% relative to the control group. It’s also important to understand employees know they have a problem. As such, focus feedback on causes and solutions.
And while the impulse may be to focus feedback on the negative, reinforcing good behavior, even by saying something as simple as, “I really like what you did there,” can reap dividends. Research has shown that 78 percent of workers said that being recognized for their efforts motivates them and 69 percent said they would work harder if they were better recognized for their efforts.
Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.
-Robin Sharma, Leadership and Personal Mastery Expert
Improving communication in the workplace is vital. It is particularly important for leaders. As a leader, every decision you make sends a message to the people around you, as does every decision you choose not to make. Every choice communicates something and those who work with you and interact with will interpret it.
Interested in learning more about improving communication in the workplace and how we can help improve your leadership communication, please contact us.