The dos and don'ts of communicating with employees
One of the biggest challenges managers face is communicating effectively with employees. Your employees most likely have different communication styles. One employee may be more assertive, another employee may be more emotional and another employee may be very quiet. Knowing how to interact and connect with each employee can take intuition, experience and practice, but there are some basic guidelines that typically work well for all employees.
DO praise often and make it meaningful
Your employees are working hard, and yes, they are being paid for their work. However, you should still take the time to recognize and praise your team for their efforts. Recognition and praise at work have many benefits including increased individual productivity, improved safety records, better employee retention, and more motivated employees. Your employees will appreciate it even more if your compliments are specific and meaningful. “Good job” is not memorable feedback and is quickly forgotten.
DON’T criticize in public
When an employee makes a mistake, you may want to correct the employee right away—even when colleagues and customers are in the room. Yet, when you criticize an employee in public, you potentially shame them. Being reprimanded in front of colleagues is embarrassing and awkward for all. In addition, when you admonish an employee in public, you damage team dynamics and erode trust. The employees who aren’t being reprimanded realize that they could be next, and consequently, your team will be less open and more guarded.
DO communicate frequently
It’s important to communicate any challenges in a timely fashion. If you wait three months to tell an employee about a mistake, the employee may not remember the incident, or worse—he or she has spent the last three months repeating this error. You should also try to communicate news about your department or your organization before your employees hear it from other sources. Frequent, honest and transparent communication puts a stop to the rumor mill.
DON’T put employees on the defensive
You want to talk to employees about their mistakes, without making them feel condemned. The words you choose will either make employees feel safe or defensive. This is particularly true when you’re talking to an employee about a problem. It’s important to focus on problem resolution rather than assigning blame.
The Ripple Effect
Managers tend to play a large role in an organization’s success. They help move projects forward and ensure their team is operating efficiently. Communicating thoughtfully with employees may feel like one more thing on a manager’s ever-growing task list. It may even feel like a luxury item—since things will get done even if you are not kind. However, when you express kindness, consideration and gratitude to your employees, they will learn from your example—and then they will extend kindness, consideration and gratitude to each other and to your customers. If the benefits of effective employee communication are greater employee engagement and improved customer experience, isn’t effective employee communication worth prioritizing?