Read the article below and then post one of your own comments regarding what you found useful or interesting about these communication mistakes.
Seven Communication Mistakes Managers Make Harvard Business Review – Best Practices
Seven Communication Mistakes Managers Make by Stever Robbins
Decisions about change are the most charged – reorganizations, changing goals, and the departure of key employees create uncertainty, and uncertainty generates anxiety.
To forestall anxiety, open a dialogue with the other person. Put a name to the problem: “This reorganization means we’ll be doing some things differently, and that makes some people apprehensive.” Then address the concerns raised in response to your statement:
Is the other person uncertain about the future? Share the scenario you expect to unfold. Does the reorganization jeopardize a project? Share plans for keeping it afloat. Demonstrate that you get it, keeping in mind that you can address emotion better with body language than with words. Make sure yours conveys concern and empathy. 2. Lying Some lies or partial truths are well-intentioned. Certain topics must remain confidential while they’re under discussion. But be careful how you keep secrets. If people know you’ve lied, you will lose their trust forever. A start-up company’s controller watched the CFO lie to members of other departments and subsequently began to doubt the CFO’s sincerity. He began looking for a new job with a boss whose intentions he could trust. In that instance, lying cost the company a valuable employee.
Rather than lie, train yourself to respond, “I’m not free to comment” or “I can’t answer that fully right now,” when asked about confidential or sensitive topics. Consistency is important. Warren Buffett never discusses his investments, even with shareholders. As a result, his silence on a particular deal gives away nothing.
Conversely, messages are magnified as they travel down the hierarchy. If you look pained during a presentation, everyone will “know” you hated the presentation (or worse – the presenter). No one will think to blame the pastrami sandwich you ate too fast before you came to the meeting. Jokes are especially dangerous. When the managing director of a consulting firm joked, “If you’re not here Sunday, don’t bother coming in Monday,” his project team wasn’t sure what to do. One said, “We were pretty sure he was joking, but. . .”
Put a lid on rumors by using plain, simple language. End meetings by reviewing your reactions and next steps. “I value your analysis, Chris. The sales trend is disturbing. Let’s follow up on Wednesday.”
Many managers like to gloss over problems when motivating their teams. But if things aren’t going well, those teams are probably well aware of the problems. In fact, they’ve probably known about them longer than you have. Rather than avoiding the situation, enlist their skills in finding solutions.
Simple. Your hard work was process, and you promised them an outcome. You want them to appreciate how hard you tried, but they wanted a specific result. Since they didn’t get it, they can’t see past that fact. You want people to value you for your hard work. But when evaluating others, it’s always easier to judge outcomes. Most organizations penalize employees for the wrong outcome, even if they follow the right process. Perversely, others are rewarded for the right outcome, even when they flout the rules about process.
At the same time, phone calls and face-to-face meetings are inefficient ways to disseminate information, but great for discussing nuanced issues. You can respond directly to the listener’s reaction, and you can use your tone of voice and facial expressions to control your message. “I’m sure you did a great job” could be read sarcastically in an e-mail, but the same words can be delivered sincerely in person with the right tone of voice.
Furthermore, some people are listeners, while others are readers. Listeners won’t focus on written memos but are great in conversation. Readers write great memos and are also glad to read them, but conversation sometimes fails to fully engage them. If you talk to a reader or write to a listener, your message might not get through. Don’t be afraid to ask people how they prefer to receive information; most people know the answer. If they don’t, a little attention on your part will reveal what works best. (And for some people, it’s a combination of the two.)
When fundraising became the CEO’s priority at a distance learning company, he stopped communicating his vision to employees. Since money was constantly on his mind, he did mention financial goals. Eventually, the company culture became money-focused, and the vision was lost. But when the CEO delivered a vision-oriented presentation at a conference, one of his employees approached him afterward to say that she had never felt so inspired. As a result, he changed his internal communication strategy to emphasize vision once more, and saw morale soar.
By their very nature, mistakes of omission are hard to uncover. Review your major goals and the communication that’s needed to support those goals. Ask what message may have been sent by your silence so far. And be willing to ask people, “What messages are you getting from me?”
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