How you talk to your team is a key part of being a successful and effective manager.
As a leader, it’s part of your job to regularly communicate with colleagues to motivate and inspire them to reach collective and individual targets and objectives, deliver strategic direction and reinforce corporate culture.
To be effective, you need to get these messages across in a way that creates energy and enthusiasm, rather than deflation and disappointment. If you can’t get them to listen and act, you can’t do your job.
So, here are a few tips for talking to employees in a way that motivates and energises them:
1. Let the small stuff go. Most managers are in the job because they have worked their way up (or perhaps even helped start the business off in the first place), so you will undoubtedly have experience and advice on every aspect of the business from the mission statement to the colour of the walls. But you don’t have to communicate every thought to the staff. If it’s not important to comment on and critique, then let it slide. Your instinct may be to pass on every little thing that comes to mind in your desire to have everything done as you would. But if you do all you’ll achieve is a climate of nit-picking and your employees will not listen as closely to the bigger, more important message you have to get across.
2. Use open-ended questions. …and then be listen. A great question to ask is always “Tell me about [insert topic here].” Whether you ask an administrator about a worksheet, new employee about their previous experience or an IT engineer about a new application, what you really want is to understand their knowledge, find out what they really think, not to influence their response by loading your expectation into the way you ask the question. So try and ask questions that open up the conversation and then wait, listen and you’ll get far more interesting, revealing and informative responses.
3. Use humour. Regardless of the type of organisation you work in, it’s not unusual for there to be some tension and emotional distance between a manager and their team. A certain amount of separation is, of course, desirable but you also want to be seen as approachable, personable, easy to talk to and, very importantly, easy to listen to. Humour is a great way to make that happen. You don’t need to be a born stand-up comedian and in fact if employees think you see yourself as a funny person it can backfire. Self-deprecating humour is probably the best as you are the subject of your own joke (so know how far you can go) and your team will know that you don’t take yourself too seriously.
4. Spice up your emails with ecards. At eCO2 Greetings we believe that everyday business ecards can be a really useful part of any employee recognition programme, providing a more impactful and engaging way of communicating motivational or congratulatory messages via email. We are currently developing a range of free and monthly subscription Christmas greetings ecards for our customers use and will be announcing more soon.
Conversations, both individually and in groups, that take place throughout your organisation – between senior and junior staff, between members of departments, when the old hand meets the new employee – are often the source of great new ideas. You can set a good example for everyone to follow, each time you open your mouth.
There are many sources available if you want to read more about communication skills and how they make all the difference in business. A good resource is the library at Inc.com.