Managers spend much of their time delivering and receiving messages in person. This can be the most critical – and satisfying – arena of communication. Honesty and feedback are both essential if you are to achieve clarity and progress.
The workforce’s need to obtain information and the ability of its managers to provide all types of information in the right way are crucial elements in any organization. Start by finding out which areas people most want to know about. Job security, working conditions, reward, location, and benefits are all important, and you should communicate any changes affecting these as soon and as directly as possible.
Delivering a message that may be misunderstood is all too easy. It may happen because you are not clear about what you want to say; or because your language is vague even though your objectives are clear; or because your body language very subtly contradicts your verbal message. Another reason why it may happen is that you are communicating with someone who has decided in advance, what the message is – without listening to you and regardless of what you are actually trying to say.
A useful way to avoid misinterpretation is to rehearse your message with an objective critic. Alternatively, get your recipients to repeat your message – you can then use their feedback to try to correct any misapprehensions. Use positive body language to emphasize your verbal message.
Feedback is essential to communication – to check that you have understood the other person’s message and to react to what they have said and done. It can be difficult to give negative feedback, but remember that it is bad management to avoid doing this. When giving negative feedback, follow these simple rules to avoid any antagonism:
- Show an understanding of exactly what went wrong, and why;
- Draw out the way in which poor performance or behaviour can improve;
- Use questioning rather than assertions to let the staff member know what you think, and why;
- Aim to express your negative opinions honestly but in a positive manner;
- Above all, take negative feedback away from the emotional zone by being objective, not personal.
- When giving positive feedback, state the reasons for your praise.
- Let the staff know what efforts you are making to relay information.
- If in doubt about whether or not you should pass on information, do so.
- Waste no time on people who refuse to understand you.