Being an effective manager involves communicating with people from various different areas of the organisation. Doing it well means you’ll have to adapt your approached based on who you’re speaking with, and what you want to say. Here, we’ll be looking at the different methods that can be used.
Different conversations will call for different channels of communication. Remember that communication isn’t just about getting your message across, but listening to what others have to say too.
Informal chats – A manager should be visible to employees. Make time to simply be around the team, chat, and address any issues should they arise.
One-to-one meetings – These are best for conversations that contain private or confidential information. They should be held in private, so they are appropriate for appraisals and disciplinary/grievance matters.
Team meetings – Meetings with the wider team are best for discussing goals and challenges. A manager should lead the meeting by drawing up an agenda and letting everyone have their say.
Email – Online communication is useful for keeping employees up-to-date with memos and general communication. However, it shouldn’t be used for giving feedback due to its impersonal nature.
Noticeboards/intranet – This is another good way of keeping employees up-to-date. They may be need to be informed when updates are made, so they’re not missed.
Having difficult conversations
Difficult conversations shouldn’t be avoided. Most problems concerning conduct, performance, personal issues or absence are the manager’s responsibility, so should be addressed as soon as possible.
It may be worth having an informal chat beforehand to try to solve the problem before it escalates. Sometimes just making someone aware of unacceptable behaviour can cause them to stop. This approach does depend on the situation, however.
Planning – Before holding the meeting with the employee, consider how you’ll deliver your message. This will depend on what needs to be said, and who you’re saying it to. You should establish the facts, structure your meeting, and be aware of the relevant policies and procedures if dealing with a disciplinary or grievance case.
Conducting the meeting – The location of the meeting should be somewhere private, and it should be held in person. The layout of the meeting room is also important – sitting face to face can seem confrontational, so sitting next to each other will make the meeting less threatening. Give yourself enough time, don’t rush, and take time afterwards to gather your thoughts and reflect on the meeting. Consider how non-verbal communication can impact on how you communicate, so be aware of body language.
Handling challenges, interruptions and questions – Prior to the meeting, try to anticipate any questions or challenges the employee may have and draft pre-emptive answers. Remember to keep to the structure of the meeting, stay calm and in control of the situation. If you feel you need to change your approach or adjourn for a break, you can do so if you think it is appropriate.
Concluding – At the end of the meeting, check to see if anything else needs to be discussed. Focus on how the matter may be resolved, and offer any support needed. Agree with the employee as to what will happen next, and when the situation will be reviewed.