By Terri Swanson, EMPO Corporation
If you’re like many people, you know that it’s important to communicate regularly with your employees. In fact if you’re like most business owners or managers, you probably spend at least 45% of any work day talking with your employees. The question is, are you talking to or at your employees or are you talking with them. It may seem that because you’re the “boss” you should be talking to them, telling them what to do and how to do it, but if you really want to communicate effectively with your staff and thus create and increase efficiency and motivate them, there is much more to it. To be successful in business you must be able to build good relationships with your employees and although it starts with the words you say, your body movement (posture, facial expressions, eye contact) and tone of your voice (calm, excited, agitated, happy), also have a major impact. It’s important to check your emotions before you talk to someone—especially if the topic you are discussing is of a serious nature. A couple other things to think about when you are talking with someone:
- a firm and steady handshake shows self confidence and willingness to communicate;
- facial expressions like mimicking or rolling your eyes are perceived as insulting;
- too many gestures are appropriate when trying to get your point across but too many can make someone uncomfortable;
- maintaining eye contact with the person you are talking with shows you are interested in the conversation. However, staring at them can make them uncomfortable.
Another important thing to remember is communicating is a two-way street. In addition to talking to employees it’s important to actively listen to them as well. This will help build rapport, will help you earn power and respect, will reduce the risk of errors, and of course will help them better understand what you are saying. In turn, this will help save you and others time and money, and will increase employee satisfaction and retention. To actively listen, have eye contact with the speaker, let the person talk (don’t interrupt), lean forward to show your interest, and repeat and restate what you’ve heard. Although you think you may know what the person is saying, it’s important to restate and repeat to make sure: “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Huh??
Next month…what to write and how to write it…