According to a recent survey, bosses need to work on their communication and diplomacy skills. Here are some tips.
You’re a people manager — and you believe you’re good at it. But do you really know what your employees think about your management skills?
According to a survey by Robert Half Management Resources, these are the skills workers say their boss needs to improve most: communication and diplomacy.
In the February survey, workers were asked, “Which skill do you think your manager needs to improve most?” Nearly one in three employees (30 percent) rated their boss lowest in communication and diplomacy skills. The next lowest rated skill was technical expertise (18 percent) followed by leadership (17 percent) and strategic thinking (14 percent).
Not sure how your employees would rate your communication skills? Find out! One of the best things you can do is solicit feedback. Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, recommends managers proactively request feedback from employees by asking these types of questions:
- When it comes to communication, what am I doing well and where can I improve?
- What other types of information do you need and want from me?
- What is your favorite communication channel?
- Which communication channels am I not using as well as I could be?
- How has poor communication on my part hindered your ability to perform your job?
- How would you assess my listening skills?
- What can I do to make it easier for you to come to me with questions and feedback?
If you’re feeling crunched for time to spend on internal communications, you’re probably not alone. “Middle to senior managers have more work to do than ever before,” notes Hird. “They are battling the clock every day, which means they may be prioritizing other activities ahead of communication.”
Depending on the feedback you receive from your team, you may want to allocate more time to providing updates on the wider organization and helping each employee understand why their work matters and how it contributes to the bottom line.
Diplomacy refers to being able to work with people and establish relations in a positive, tactful and effective manner. Diplomacy isn’t necessary only at an international level; it’s also needed when it comes to a manager working and communicating with his or her team.
Being diplomatic in your communications with your team includes:
- Establishing a regular cadence of communications, to keep your team updated and informed on important topics.
- Being as open and honest as possible, yet sensitive to confidential information.
- Tailoring your communications appropriately, based on the individuals or work groups.
- Practicing active listening by focusing on what others are saying, instead of formulating your next thought.
- Seeking to understand all sides of a situation or issue before rendering your opinion.
- Striving to establish stronger work relationships within your team and cross-functionally with other work groups.
- Using words that are thoughtful, calm and respectful versus phrases that could incite anger or be considered rude or uninformed.
- Being yourself and letting your team see your personality.
As you work to improve your communications and diplomacy skills, don’t try so hard to be a manager that you stop being an individual.
“Be honest and relatable, and show vulnerability from time to time,” Hird says. “To err is human – your team wants to know that you are not perfect and don’t expect them to be either.”