Great communication, great team


Have you ever heard people say things like the following comments?


·       “Management never lets us know what’s going on.” 

·       “Our questions and concerns don’t get through to them.”

·       “They just don’t care. They’re too busy looking out for themselves.” 


Unfortunately, this lack of communication is typical in too many organizations. Here is a list of the most common managerial failings that help to foster communication breakdown:

The top 10 communication sins:


  • Commanding: Ordering people around tends to produce resentment and anger. Statements beginning with “You must,” “You have to,” or “You ought to” often produce resentful responses (usually not verbalized to the manager) such as “Who do you think you are? I know my job a lot better than you do!”
  • Threatening: Statements including “If you don’t” or “You had better” encourage rebellion and attempts to beat the system.
  • Giving unsolicited advice: The only valued advice is advice someone asks for. “What you should do is” statements often produce “I’ll do it my own way” responses or half-hearted, reluctant compliance.
  • Vague language: Saying, “We need to come up with a better system” produces confusion. Is the employee getting an assignment? Is the manager looking for suggestions?
  • Withholding information: Phrases such as “That’s management confidential” or “You don’t need to know” result in responses such as “My Manager doesn’t care about me. I’ll have to get my information from people who do.”
  • Name calling: Confronting employees by saying, “You are careless” or “You’re getting lazy” elicits defensive reactions such as “Who do you think you are to judge me? You’re twice as bad as I am, and you don’t know what’s going on.”
  • Patronizing: People can take even a compliment the wrong way, especially depending on the employee’s experience with the current and past managers. The manager might consider a comment like “I’m glad you finally got that project done” as a positive, but the employees see it as a negative indictment of how long it took. The employee could also take “You’re doing a great job” as condescending if appropriate actions don’t follow these positive words.
  • Playing psychologist: Starting sentences with “Your problem is” often produces “You don’t know anything about me, so why don’t you take care of your own problems first” responses.
  • Avoiding issues: This may be the biggest complaint against managers. We’ve all heard, “Let me check it out, and I’ll get back to you”. Our response? “Here we go again­–another issue avoided.”
  • Sarcastic remarks: Wisecracks that put people down, such as “I’m glad to see you finally made it on time,” might be met with hostility. A manager might think, “They know I was kidding. We have a great relationship and joke all the time.” However, that manager probably doesn’t connect the sarcasm to high staff turnover, low productivity, high absenteeism, and low morale.

To avoid communication breakdown, practice the following rules of effective communication:


  •  Develop trust with your employees, peers, and leaders. You don’t automatically get trust–you must earn it.
  •  Openly communicate more than you have to or need to. Make it your top priority.
  •  Be as specific as possible in the words or phrases you use. Ambiguity is counterproductive.
  •  Supply all the background information and reasons people need to understand changes.
  •  Be absolutely honest with all employees.
  •  Actively share information and feelings.
  •  Talk to employees as one adult to another (the way you would like your manager to talk to you).
  •  Always solicit employee ideas, suggestions, and reactions.
  •  Follow through, always–no exceptions. Even if you couldn’t find the answer or are waiting on one, keep your people updated.
  •  Recognize that a manager’s job is to remove roadblocks, irritants, and frustrations, not to put them there.

Remember employees are important and want you to treat them that way. They want to feel that they belong and that their work makes a difference. If you don’t acknowledge them and their value, they’ll work just hard enough to get by and no more. Don’t let it happen to your company!



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