Have you ever hear people say things like, “Management never lets us know what’s going on,” “Our questions and concerns don’t get through to them” or “They just don’t care. They are too busy looking out for themselves”.
Unfortunately, this lack of communication is typical of the situation in too many organizations. Here is a list of the most common failings by managers 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…” “You ought to…” often produce 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 such as “If you don’t…” or “You had better…” encourage rebellion and attempts to beat the system.
- Giving unsolicited advice: The only advice that is valued is advice that is asked for. The statement “What you should do is…” often produces “I’ll do it my own way”.
- 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,” “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” will produce defensive reactions such as “Who do you think you are to judge me? You’re twice as bad as I am.”
- Patronizing: Even a compliment can be taken the wrong way. A lot has to do with the employee’s experience with the current and past managers. A comment like “I’m glad you finally got that project done…” may be thought of as a positive by the manager, but as a negative by the employee. “You’re doing a great job” can be taken as patronizing if appropriate actions don’t follow these positive words.
- Playing psychologist: Starting a sentence with “Your problem is…” will produce “You don’t know anything about me, why don’t you take care of your own problems first.”
- 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”. “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…” will be met with hostility. Managers often think, “They know I was kidding. We have a great relationship. We joke all the time.” They don’t connect their sarcasm to high staff turnover, low productivity, high absenteeism and low morale.
To avoid communication breakdown, practice these communications principles: The Rules of Effective Communication:
- Develop trust: It’s not automatically given; it must be earned
- 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.
- Supply whatever 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
- Recognize that the job of the manager is to remove roadblocks, irritants, and frustrations, not to put them there.
Remember employees are important and want to be treated that way. They want to feel that they belong and that their work makes a difference. If they aren’t made to feel this way, they’ll work just hard enough to get by.
Don’t let it happen to your company!