MANAGERS: If you can learn to communicate change clearly – both one-on-one and to a team – it will pay off for you and for the organization big time.
Studies have shown that communication is the most common thing managers do, spending 60% to 80% of their time communicating with their teams. This could be face-to-face, over the phone or via e-mail. So clearly, communication is key. But the problem is this: Stats suggest most managers are bad communicators.
In one relevant survey, 86% of managers thought they were good communicators, but only 17% said their managers actually communicated effectively. Another substantial survey uncovered that only 14% of people rated managers in their organization as “good” or “very good.”
So what tangible steps can a manager take to beat the odds?
Let’s start with a story. I remember working with my manager years ago, sitting in a small room with a large dry-erase board, talking about our processes. First, we identified what our overall departmental goal was and how our roles were created to support it. We then started drafting what each role within the department was supposed to accomplish, and how each person was handing off the work to the next coworker in the process. We created a massive flow chart and got really clear about who did what and when they did it. It took several weeks to develop, but in doing so we found where the gaping holes were in our processes. We started using the repeat, confirm, clarify communication method when a new employee joined the team. Someone walked them through the processes in detail, and the result was that the processes continued to stick!
Conversely, a former client of mine working in New York has called me several times in frustration, describing the stress she is under because her manager is not clearly communicating or defining how her employees should work together, or who should do what. The consequence is that deadlines are never met and everyone is looking to leave the company. Her manager’s solution has been to hire more contract workers to help the team crawl out of the crater she’s created, mistakenly thinking the problem is about needing more workers instead of effectively defining roles and processes. If the problems are not resolved, the company is threatening to shut down the whole department and hire an outside agency to manage the business, while they regroup and rebuild the department from the ground up!
Consider that a cautionary tale of what could happen if you don’t take seriously communicating change and clarifying goals, roles and responsibilities.
If this topic interests you, check out more advice for managers in my book, RINGMASTER: 8 Strategies For Becoming A Star Performer In The Midst Of Change