Three tips to become a better communicator

You may have heard the saying ‘people join an organisation but leave a leader’. Leaders have a tremendous impact on a business’ employee engagement and retention and one of the skills they must develop is communication.

You may have heard the saying ‘people join an organisation but leave a leader’. Leaders have a tremendous impact on a business’ employee engagement and retention. One of the skills they must develop is communication – it is crucial for leaders to be able to share information in a way that creates a sense of urgency, helps develop a common vision, generates enthusiasm and motivates others to action.

But being a great communicator is not an easy feat. After all, human interactions are complex. So here are three tips to help you become a better communicator:

1. Create an ongoing dialogue

Until employees feel they are listened to and cared for, all communication will come across as meaningless propaganda. So there should be systems in place for you to listen to people and engage with them. Some examples of systems I’ve seen used in organisations include:

  • The CEO open Q&A is a weekly live forum on the intranet where the CEO is available to answer employees’ questions, suggestions and comments. The culture of the organisation must be very open and the CEO well prepared for this tactic to be successful – and not backfire.
  • The good old suggestion box has been successful in organisations where it was well implemented. The process requires respect, follow through and certainly a bit of encouragement.
  • Employee surveys – if implemented thoughtfully, transparently and when the results are put into actions – are another way to demonstrate you are listening.
  • Last but not least, no matter the number of messages sent and received, face-to-face conversations will never replace electronic communication. So make sure you are genuinely engaging with people.

2. Share the vision

Leaders must live and breathe the organisational vision. One of their main roles is to hold the culture of the organisation and an essential part of this is for them to share the vision of the business – where we’ve been, where we’re going and how each individual contributes to our success.

The vision should be shared on every opportunity: at meetings, in the weekly or monthly CEO message which can be sent via email, in the staff newsletter where appropriate, on the walls of the organisation and more. What’s most important is for this vision to be clear, concise and easily applied to all the different roles within the organisation.

3. Be personal and inclusive

In order for leaders to gain greater respect and trust within the organisation, they must be seen as interested in their people and must create a culture of inclusion.

Being personal means being seen around the office, learning the names of the people, asking how their weekends were or how their family is (without crossing any privacy boundary) and attending work social events. In other words, it’s about becoming ‘part of the team’ – rather than being that person that sits above it. Obviously, it’s also important to keep a healthy balance between authority and comradeship.

Creating a culture of inclusion is also important and it entails making sure everyone feels included – even in social circumstances. Let’s take, for example, a staff meeting where, waiting for the meeting to start, a manager casually starts discussing the last football game. Everyone gets involved in the discussion as they’re all very passionate about the sport… except for one person sitting in the room who has no interest or knowledge of football. This person feels left out. Now if this situation happens once, it’s fine. But when it becomes custom, it creates a culture of exclusion which is detrimental to staff engagement… and certainly not a sign of good interpersonal communication skills.

In summary, creating an open dialogue, repetitively sharing the vision in a concise and clear way and being personal and inclusive will send you on your way to becoming a better communicator.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these tips.

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