By training, I’m an accountant. By design, I’m a CEO. And, like it or not, I spend a great amount of my time managing my employees. Over the years, I’ve learned that “good” management is really about communication. Here are four tips I use to better communicate with my team:
Understand That Everyone Has a Unique Perspective
Having six sisters, I learned early on that everyone has a unique perspective. What one person perceives as a benign comment can start a war when heard by someone else. I try hard to keep this in mind when working with my employees. What seems obvious to me may not be to my team.
This came to mind during a recent meeting. “How did you come up with that number?” I asked my managers. The math wasn’t adding up. After having a discussion with no resolution, I realized that the problem was the way I asked the question: it was making one of my managers more defensive than I had intended.
I’ve also developed a different sort of perspective as a CEO. I see the big picture, where frequently, my employees only see what impacts them directly. For example, one of our employees was recently promoted to manager. While she welcomed the position, it took a while for her mindset to shift from that of an individual contributor. For months, she put her external clients ahead of her managerial responsibilities, not realizing that she really needed to delegate that work to another team member so that she could focus. Once she realized this, she shifted her perspective and is now making better leadership decisions.
Establish a Rapport
As busy as I am, small talk can feel like a waste of time. “How are you?” and “What are you doing this weekend?” aren’t the first items on my agenda. That said, having camaraderie goes a long way in building a team that trusts one another. As the boss, it also ensures the team knows I care about them as people, and not only for the work they are doing. In the long run, the few minutes it takes to catch up with an employee helps improve job satisfaction. When employees feel valued as people, they are more likely to remain committed and stay with our company.
This may sound contradictory to my last advice, but I’ve found getting to the point quickly is my best approach. Being a good manager means clearly articulating what you need an employee to do, within what timeframe, and how you want the task performed. It’s hard for employees to succeed if they don’t have an explicit directive.
This can be challenging when you must reprimand an employee, but both of you know what’s coming. Better to get it out and figure out the next steps so you can move on.
My final piece of communication advice is to listen. I learn something every time I talk to my employees. I also make better decisions because I’ve taken the time to listen. It allows me to learn the perspective of my team, establish a rapport and improve their overall function.
Managing people is difficult. To succeed, I’ve worked hard to become more aware of what’s going on in all aspects of my business. I’ve also set goals so that I can improve employee turnover, my ability to get employees to do what I’ve asked, and employee satisfaction. After some trial and error, I’ve found that the more effort I put into managing people, the more successful I am as a business owner.