Effective Communication

Effective communication is the process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and data so that the message is received and understood clearly and purposefully.

When defining effective communication, consider individual communication styles. This includes the methods by which communication is being shared, the fact that different people will define it differently, and the motivations and feelings that underlie the communication.

Effective communication is key to successful coaching, offering feedback, conflict management, and handling difficult conversations, all of which play a substantial role in successful performance management.

Keep your communication channels people-centered and intentional with three steps:

  • Consider the type of message you’re sending
  • Reflect on your workplace values around messaging and delivery methods
  • Choose a communication channel that will best reach your audience

5 Keys to Effective Communication

  • Choose your words wisely.
  • Listen to what others say.
  • Consider your tone, inflection and body language.
  • Write less, say more.
  • Know when to stop.

Why Effective Communication is Important to Managers

There are a myriad of reasons and benefits of effective communication. Here are a few of the biggest:

  • Improved understanding and clarity: Effective communication ensures that everyone is on the same page and that there is no confusion about tasks, goals, or expectations.
  • Increased productivity: Clear and efficient communication reduces wasted time and resources.
  • Enhanced teamwork: Good communication promotes collaboration and cooperation among team members, leading to a more cohesive and effective team.
  • Better decision-making: Effective communication enables individuals to share information, ideas, and perspectives, which leads to better and more informed decision-making.
  • Stronger relationships: Good communication helps build trust and mutual understanding, which leads to stronger relationships within the organization.

Your Role as the Manager

As a manager, there are key activities that you should build into your team communication plan.

  • Lead by example and role model the use of effective communication. Be approachable, personal and authentic. Demonstrate vulnerability.
  • Engage in regular meetings with each employee and have regular team meetings to share information and discuss progress, challenges and achievements. Utilize the Performance Conversations to document in Workday.
  • Set clear expectations: Communicate to employees the purpose and benefits of the continuous coaching and feedback systems. Emphasize that the goal is growth and improvement, not punitive measures.
  • Develop performance measures: Clear and measurable performance measures should be discussed and agreed upon between the manager and their team members.
  • Skill Assessment: Identify individual and team skill gaps through assessments and discussions. This will help tailor coaching strategies to address specific needs. Contact the Talent Development team or your HRBP for more information on how to do this.
  • Identify communication styles: Check in with employees about their respective communication styles and what is working and what isn’t working.
  • Choose your communication tools: As a team, review your communication methods. For example, what do you use email for versus Slack? With so many tools available, having buy-in from your team members about what to use when can be beneficial. Document what the group decides. This will help you integrate any new team members in the future.
  • Recognize and celebrate individual and team successes

Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

  • Treat everyone with respect.
  • Listen, listen, and listen. People want to know that they are being heard. Really listen to what the other person is saying, instead of formulating your response. Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings. At that moment, the person speaking to you should be the most important person in your life. Another important point is to have one conversation at a time. This means that if you are speaking to someone on the phone, do not respond to an email, or send a text at the same time. The other person will know that they don’t have your undivided attention.
  • Who you are talking to matters. It is okay to use acronyms and informal language when you are communicating with a friend, but if you are emailing or texting your boss, "Hey," "TTYL," or any informal language has no place in your message. You cannot assume that the other person knows what the acronym means. Some acronyms have different meanings to different people. Effective communicators target their message based on who they are speaking to, so try to keep the other person in mind, when you are trying to get your message across.
  • Body language matters, and this is especially true for face-to-face meetings and video conferencing. To appear accessible, have open body language. This means that you should not cross your arms. Keep eye contact so the other person knows you are paying attention.
  • Check your message before you hit send. Spelling and grammar checkers are lifesavers, but they are not foolproof. Double-check what you have written to ensure that your words communicate the intended message.
  • Be brief, yet specific. For written and verbal communication, practice being brief yet specific enough to provide enough information for the other person to understand what you are trying to say. If you are responding to an email, make sure that you read the entire email before crafting your response. With enough practice, you will learn not to ramble, or give too much information.
  • Write things down. Take notes while talking to another person or in a meeting, and do not rely on your memory. Send a follow-up email to make sure that you understand what was being said during the conversation.
  • Pick up the phone. If you have a lot to say, instead of sending an email, call the person. Email is great, but sometimes, it is easier to communicate what you have to say verbally.
  • Think before you speak. Always pause before you speak, not saying the first thing that comes to mind. Take a moment and pay close attention to what you say and how you say it. This one habit will allow you to avoid embarrassment.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Even when you speak on the phone, your positive attitude will come through, and the other person will know it. When you exude a positive attitude, people will respond positively to you.

Tools and Resources

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