Communicating effectively as a manager

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By Goke Ilesanmi

All organisations, no matter what their size or scope, are held together by and perform their functions through the process of communication. Communication is indeed the channel of influence, the mechanism of change and the means of motivation that enables an organisation to reach its goal of productivity and profitability among others.

Without communication, there can be no interpersonal interaction, group, government or even a society as we now have. Rather than being a product, communication is a process. Rather than being a specific item which can be handled from one person to another, communication is a dynamic, flowing, ever-changing phenomenon.

Whoever a manager is or whatever management style he or she adopts, his or her work is not an impersonal process because managers manage people. It is through these people that a business succeeds or fails.

A manager’s primary responsibility is the development of a team that will work WITH him or her rather than FOR him or her. If the manager can accomplish this, the likelihood of realising the maximum return from individuals and achieving the goals of the organisation is greatly assured.

James Robbins and Barbara Jones, business communication experts, even advocate communication types such as directional flow of communication; downward flow of communication; upward flow of communication; facilitating upward communication; written upward communication; oral upward communication and communication with peers in a bid to achieve effective workplace communication.

Findings show that managers spend about 70 to 80 per cent of their total time communicating in one way or the other, which may be talking, listening, reading or writing. Without effective communication, there can be little or no performance management, innovation, understanding of clients and coordination of efforts. Without effective communication, it is difficult to manage the expectations of those who are in a position to make decisions.

Most managers do not communicate well, and do not set an organisational climate where internal communication is managed effectively.  This is not surprising, since a manager who communicates ineffectively and does not encourage effective organisational communication is unlikely to hear about it.  Poor communication is self-sustaining, because it eliminates an important ‘feedback loop’.

Staff members are reluctant to express their concerns about communication because they do not perceive the manager as receptive.  A manager needs to be an active listener. According to Ed Brodow, a communication expert, we hear mostly what we want to hear, not what the other person is trying to communicate to us. In short, you may be fostering poor communication, and never know it. You may see the symptoms, but unless you are looking carefully, you may not identify your own involvement in the problem.

Effective organisational communication, regardless of form, requires three things.  First, all players must have the appropriate skills and understanding to communicate well.  Second, it requires a climate or culture that supports effective communication.  More specifically, this climate involves trust, openness, reinforcement of good communication practices and shared responsibility for making communication effective.

Third, effective communication requires attention.  It does not just happen, but develops as a result of a deliberate effort on the part of management and staff.

As a manager, your role in improving communication with respect to each of these can be defined thus:  First, if you want to improve communication, you will need to ensure that you and staff have the skills and knowledge necessary to communicate effectively.

Second, you play a critical role in fostering and nurturing a climate that is characterised by open communication.  Finally, you must bring communication to the forefront of organisational attention.  If you make the effort to improve communication, your staff will recognise that it is important. If you ignore it, so will the staff.

As regards rules for management communication, the first of the rules is to tell staff in advance. Karl Walinskas, a communication specialist educates that whether you are dealing with salespeople, floor-sweepers or doctors, anytime you as a manager want to make a decision that affects people’s lives, tell them well in advance.

Another rule for management communication is to give enough information. The final rule for effective management communication is to live by example, that is, walk the talk of your message.

Today’s managers must show the resolve to achieve organisational goals through effective communication.

PS: For those making inquiries about our Public Speaking, Business Presentation and Professional Writing Skills programme, please visit the website indicated on this page for details.

GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.

Tel: 08055068773; 08187499425

Email: gokeiles2010@gmail.com

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng