We are human. Its natural, normal and dare I say it HUMAN to have needs and its essential in some way to communicate those needs to others around us. So what happens when our methods of communication start to break down? Or even worse, disappear altogether? You end up with one hell of a frustrating mess, that’s what.
So, with this in mind, I’m laying down a challenge for you. If you do nothing else with your employees this year, I want you to do one thing – communicate more!
I’m not just talking about in the business sense, I want you to REALLY get to know the people that work for you. Use your small talk, social skills and ask questions and find out things about your employees that you didn’t know before. Sure, this could make many a boss twitch in fear, but by starting a rapport with fellow workers not only do you begin to understand them better, but you’ll most likely find they’ll appreciate you asking about their work AND their life.
Of course there are lines you shouldn’t cross, topics that border on the inappropriate, but as an employer you already know this. Keep it casual, no one likes to feel like they’re being interrogated for state secrets, especially by your boss. For some reason it takes you back to when you were ten years old and summoned to the principal’s office. Not fun.
It’s about starting a dialogue. If you aren’t able to rattle off three key facts about each of your direct reports then, I’m sorry, but you’re not keeping up your end of the leadership deal. Communication is not dissimilar to marriage vows….in sickness and in health 'til death of this employment relationship, I promise to listen often & communicate well.
Find out about their interests. What sports do they follow? How many grand/children they have? This isn’t only going to be your first challenge for the year however this could well be your most important task.
Think about how easily things can be misinterpreted without proper communication. Even an email can have the wrong tone and have the receiver on the defence when they don’t need to be. If your employees know you a little better, and vice versa, then the likelihood of this happening will reduce. Not only will they feel that they can approach you over any concerns, but you’ll be able to write the initial email in a way that won’t have an employee’s hackles raising.
There’s research out here in the web-sphere that 70% of workplace mistakes are caused by a lack of communication, which aren’t just costly but time consuming. So look at all the benefits of sucking it up and getting to know those under you.
Dispersion of information is another key communication issue. If one person holds something important and holds on to it like Gollum with his precious, it can cause some serious issues. Just because you have the information doesn’t mean that you own it. It’s not finders keepers. Which is why you need to check out our next post all about what your mother and father taught you – Sharing is good.