Communication Between Managers and their Employees

By Emily Topham

            Managers have a daunting task—finding the right level of communication between them and their employees. It can be difficult for new managers to transition into the level of communication that is required by a leadership position. But discovering how to communicate well can make or break a manager’s, as well as the company’s, success. As a manager, connecting with employees can be ten times more important than employees relating to one another. The relationship between managers and employees greatly affects if a company’s goals are achieved. Managers set the tone of the workplace. Creating a comfortable and stable relationship between manager and employee is what “allows the unit to work effectively and productively,” says professor Martin N. Davidson of Darden School of Business.

The best way to reflect an ideal attitude to the group is to be an attentive listener and supportive leader. Effective and meaningful communication between a manager and his employees boils down to those two principles.

Be an Attentive Listener.

The way to earn a person’s respect and friendship is to stop talking and start listening. Listening teaches a manager about his employees and, in result, make it easier to understand problems that arise and how to best address them. Many people, not just managers, confuse conversing with talking. A well balanced conversation demands attentive listeners that are more interested in what the other has to say than simply spouting out what they think the other wants to hear. Listening is more that hearing—It is learning. Good managers can communicate with their employees by hearing what is being said. This includes paying attention to the words spoken and also to the emotions that are driving the conversation. With this listening tool, manager will be able to speak to their employees in a way that matters to them personally.

Be a Supportive Leader.

As it is with all relationships, you have to give to get. A manager can get by simply listening to his employees, but for a full and more trusting relationship, managers must offer a bit of validation for every bit of conversation the employee gives. Facilitating a discussion requires active participants on either side of the conversation. Dr. Joelle K. Jay, president of Pillar Consulting, suggests three steps to have good conversation:

  • Hearing what is said
  • Integrating it into the topic at hand
  • Saying something to move the conversation forward.

Various studies have show that recognition for their efforts motivates employees to work harder and more efficiently. Encouraging good work is a good way to help employees understand the goals of the company. John Lord, employee at UVA says, “when a manager hires, promotes, recognizes good work or corrects bad, these are all opportunities to convey what really matters, what the organization cares about.”

Managers have the great gift of leadership. They must use this gift to transmit a feeling of mutual trust and respect. Giving meaningful compliments is a way for employees to feel good about themselves and about the work they are doing. Listening to employees with an attentive demeanor will make them feel important and part of the team. These two principles allow managers to communicate with their employees to set a comfortable and effective work environment.