Great managers do 5 things and we are considering them one at a time: 1) great managers keep expectations clear and 2) they communicate well. I’ll talk about 3, 4 and 5 in future entries.
Often times a manager will say, “I told them”, and think that covers it, but that is only one small part of communicating. As a great manager and communicator, I need to know they understood and embraced what I said.
Clear communication is a two-way street. The following are some suggestions, again keeping it simple:
- Make sure you know what’s on each other’s mind. We don’t assume we know. We ask to be sure. So when we see “that look” on their face, we ask what that look means. When there’s silence, we ask for their thoughts. When we aren’t quite sure about what they said, we repeat it back for clarity or ask them to state it a different way. You can also ask them to repeat back what you said in their own words. Just make sure you know what’s on each other’s mind.
- Use the 2 emotions exercise. This is an effective technique we’ve learned from Floyd Wickman, Gino’s dad. In a one-on-one situation where you are having trouble figuring each other out, try this. Say, “Two emotions. What is a positive emotion you are feeling right now and what is a negative emotion you are feeling right now? You share yours and I’ll share mine.” It typically opens up a dialogue that will get you closer to understanding each other.
- Monitor your question-to-statement ratio. Great managers ask more than they tell. Don’t just tell them what to do or what they did wrong. Ask, “How do you think we can do this to get the best result?” or “What could you do next time to keep that from happening again?” Great communication management is when they are doing most of the talking.
Takeaway point for this week:
- Answer this question: I am communicating well with every one of my direct reports – yes or no? If your answer is yes to 6 out of 7, it’s no. To be a great manager you need to be communicating well with all your people.
Encouragement: If you have done more telling than asking, your people may be a little suspicious when you start asking questions. Stick with it and gradually work towards them opening up with you.