17 December 2007

Guest Post: Rachel On Communication For Managers

This is a guest post by Rachel from The Employment File.

Rachel posted her Deathbed Managerial Advice in response to my "5 Things to say to Managers" challenge. Then I challenged her on her #5 "COMMUNICATE".

I must have said something like "this is great advice, but how do you motivate managers to really communicate when most of them will say that their voice mail is always available and that they have an open door policy (they usually say this when they work in an open space)."

Without missing a beat, she sent back the article below and allowed me to publish it. Since I like to have the last word, I wrote back some feedback, but she qualified my suggestions as "selling and schmoozing" to managers.
...and she challenged me to write a follow up post on "selling an idea to managers".


HR Advice to Managers: Communication

Having your door open or your lines clear is not communicating. There's nothing wrong with being available for these types of communication, but they should not be your primary communication vehicle. Communication is a two way road. While on the one side of the road you have employees "driving" towards you, that lane should be relatively free. On the other side of the road, you're approaching the employee, that lane should be bumper to bumper traffic.

So, let's say that you're on the road and you're ready to initiate communication. If it doesn't happen in voice mail and email where does it happen? Hopefully it's face to face. However, we're aware that it's not always easy to get face time with an employee. You should have set times to communicate with the employee on a weekly basis and work "on the fly" on a day to day basis. It means stopping for a second and checking in. What do you check in about? Well, think of how angry you would be (or your spouse would be) if you came home from work every night, asked how their day was, and then moved on to read the paper. While this is communication, it is communication at a very basic level. This is not the level of communication you want to give your employees or your spouse. Instead of, "how are you" try something like "I know today must have been hard for you working alone. I want you to know I appreciated it." Or instead of "This is the new policy, make sure you follow it" try "Here's the new policy, take a day to read it and come up with questions and then we'll have a staff meeting where I can address your concerns." See the difference?

One of the best ways to communicate with an employee is to provide them with feedback. Everyone loves to be praised! Make sure you reinforce their behavior when they do something right. This does not mean going on about how your administrative assistant can measure coffee, it means telling that assistant that you appreciate her getting your coffee with a smile when you know she'd rather be working on a more challenging project. Now, the opposite of praise is criticism. Don't worry! People don't hate criticism as much as they say. Most people want to better themselves and the best way to do that is to receive criticism. Now how you communicate that criticism matters. Don't tell Jim that watching him do a presentation is like watching paint dry. Tell him that he should look into it, and then....give advice on how to do that. Make sure criticism is always followed by advice on how to improve. It's just good communication.

As for HR, since full communication can be difficult to maintain, we like to give you reminders to keep you on the right path.

1 comment:

HR Wench said...

Tag - you're it! http://hrwench.blogspot.com/2007/12/dont-tase-me-bro-christmas-meme.html