There are many different elements that come together to create a successful leader. One of the most important is communication. Both communication style and the means with which you communicate can separate a mediocre boss from a great leader.
When managing a number of people, it is easy to fall into autopilot mode and not take into account that you are responsible for individuals rather than just one group. Each person under your management may have different styles of communication. For example, millennials are typically more comfortable conversing electronically while baby boomers would prefer a phone call or face-to-face conversation with their supervisor. However, generational generalizations may get you into trouble here.
Also consider the cultural backgrounds of your employees, taking into consideration societal norms and how they apply to your communication in the workplace. This does not apply between just yourself and individuals with differing cultural backgrounds but within the entire office. Approach this issue by holding cross-cultural training to better understand how communication can be improved with everyone in the office. Another beneficial proactive measure would be to have those in your workplace take a communication style test to better understand each other’s preferences on how to be approached. This way when you only get one word answers at the beginning of the day from someone that is not a morning person, you can understand why.
Timing is Everything
If you work in an office where you are communicating through a texting software such as Slack or GroupMe, evaluate whether some conversations would be better had in person or over a phone call. As a supervisor, reprimanding your employee for a costly mistake via text is suboptimal. Texting and messaging are subjective and can easily be misinterpreted — especially by those who are not as technologically inclined. To ensure effective and clear communication, take important matters directly to the individual in a timely fashion as opposed to allowing pertinent matters to disappear in email inboxes or conversation streams.
Discretion should be taken into account when discussing topics that not everyone in the office needs to learn about. In this case, those conversations should always be handled on a one-on-one basis. It is very unlikely that it is acceptable to discuss such matters in a group chat or during a company meeting. Alternately, when in office meetings or group chats, tune in and practice active listening with your employees. More importantly, listen for what is not being said. Likely, there is one person that typically dominates discussions with their opinions and ideas. Take time to open up the floor to the underdogs that don’t always feel like speaking up. You might be surprised by what they have to offer.
You cannot have ineffective communication and be an effective leader. Sometimes that communication can be nonverbal, electronic, or in-person, but the level of intimacy is up to your intuition about the subject at hand. Establishing clear communication with your team will only result in a more productive and efficient team.