If you're a manager or supervisor in a small to mid-sized company, you know that employee relations can sometimes be a struggle. Issues such as attendance, motivation, performance, training, and, if you're truly unlucky, theft, all pose significant challenges to your authority, not to mention your ability to get the rest of your job done.
Effective communication is, of course, a key component of successfully negotiating the potentially rocky landscape of dealing with your employees. Let's not forget, however, that dealing with employees is only one reason you might want to focus attention on how to improve communication skills in the workplace. The other? Dealing with your boss.
But of course you knew that, right? And you've already got a good relationship with your boss, don't you? Don't you? If not, then devoting time and effort on how to improve communication skills in the workplace is obviously worth your while. Even if your interactions with your supervisor are good, they could still be better, couldn't they?
Of course they could. Nobody's perfect (though we'd like to think so). Here, then, are some tools for how to improve communication skills in the workplace:
As we mentioned above, nobody's perfect. Not you. Not your boss. Remember that if you can have a bad day, so can your supervisor. Don't expect more from someone else than you do from yourself.
Preparation is Key
No matter the topic or how important the meeting, be sure you've planned out what you're going to talk about and how you're going to present it. Can the info be conveyed via a simple conversation or will a chart, document, or example of the work product in question be necessary to fully explain the issue?
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Determine the communication style your boss prefers. Email? Telephone? In-person? Is he/she a morning person or more someone who likes to put their feet up on the desk at the end of the day? Meeting or talking with or complaining to your supervisor during the time he/she prefers is likely to yield a more productive conversation.
No News is Not Good News
If you're truly interested in knowing how to improve communication skills in the workplace, remember this: When it comes to communication, it's quality and quantity. Keep your boss in the loop, especially if it's about something that might reflect on his/her competence or managerial skills. If something you're involved with goes wrong, you'll be better off if you're the one who breaks the news rather than to have your supervisor find out from a coworker or, worse yet, a customer.
There are times to be conversational, such as when you're simply checking in. If the subject matter is serious, however, being too familiar or informal might be perceived as a lack of respect. If that happens, your attempt to communicate effectively will be doomed to failure.
Conversation, Not Confrontation
You can't afford to display anger, no matter how deeply you may be feeling it at the time. If your anger gets the better of you, you're more likely to get off track and your boss may become defensive and angry as well. Poof, there goes your chance of making your point effectively.
To be respected, show respect. We don't need to say anything else about this, do we? Oh, except this: Remember to thank your boss for the opportunity discuss your concern, idea or complaint.
Knowing how to improve communication skills in the workplace may not be rocket science, but it just might help launch your career to the next level.