This is a 12-part series.
Successfully leading a team can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a professional’s career. However, addressing a diverse group effectively can be difficult for new leaders to adjust to. From open communication and recognition to delegation and empowerment to self-awareness and empathy, there are a plethora of leadership arrows professionals must carry in their quivers to be successful. So during this yearlong series, we will examine 12 areas of focus and reveal practical tips to help new leaders in some of the most important aspects of leadership. First up: communication.
While it is one of the most important skills to have, effective communication is an area where many talented professionals falter. In fact, according to a Harris Poll survey, 91% of employees claim that communicating well is the one critical skill their leaders lack. Check out these practical tips to bolster your communication skills as a leader.
1. Clearly Communicate Direction
One problem leaders have is not managing expectations. And this issue can be seen when delegating tasks and responsibilities to employees. According to the same Harris Poll survey, 57% of employees say their leaders do not give clear directions. Lacking this crucial skill can not only cause an employee to fail at a job, but it can also cause extra work for the team. When giving a new project to an employee, be thorough in your direction and instruction. Be sure to take time to ask questions and allow the worker to inquire further about the project to ensure you and the employee are on the same page. If applicable, create check-ins with your team to see how the project is moving along and to allow further discussion along the way.
2. Communicate the “Why”
Clearly communicating strategy, values, and purpose is crucial to an organization’s success and was listed as a key priority of 64% of communicators, according to a Gatehouse study. However, creating buy-in with employees goes one step further. To build employee engagement, a company’s workforce must know why they are striving for a particular goal or working toward a new sales baseline. Simply telling an employee what they need to do or how they need to do it will only go so far in maximizing production. Explaining the why can help an employee fully understand the role they play in the larger picture, creating next-level importance to simple tasks or complex projects.
3. Create an Open-Door Policy
There is a delicate balance between under communicating and over communicating. And while, it is important to create boundaries within an office setting, it’s also imperative to create a culture of open communication and comfortability between employees and leadership. According to the Harris Poll, 52% of employees say the most important characteristic their leaders are missing is not having time to meet with them. And 51% say it’s refusing to speak with subordinates. To help ensure employees feel as though their leader is available and interested in their needs, consider creating an open-door policy during specific hours in a workday in which you are available for pop-ins or one-on-one meetings. An employee wants to know they are valued and appreciated, and this will go a long way in achieving that. Pro tip: be sure to schedule this time and not allow for constant interruptions. It’s important for leaders and employees to maintain some boundaries.
What are some important communication tips you’ve learned during your career? How has a focus on communication helped you lead a successful team? Let us know in the comments section below!