From botched tasks to derailed projects to clashes between employees, nearly everything that aggravates managers stems from a failure to communicate with people.
So many critical aspects of a manager’s job — delegating, coaching, resolving conflicts, keeping workers working productively — depend on top-flight communication skills.
Yet in today’s fast-paced, high-pressure workplace, few managers place top priority on becoming a champion communicator.
“Any manager who makes the effort can excel at communication and make himself or herself more valuable to any organization in any economy,” says Nannette Rundle Carroll, a communications specialist who has been training managers in sectors from hospitality to manufacturing for more than 20 years.
In The Communicatioin Problem Solver: Simple Tools and Techniques for Busy Managers (AMACOM, 2009), she shares her unique approach to standing out as a leader of collaboration, establishing a reputation as the person people want to work with, and delivering exceptional bottom-line results. As she demonstrates, the key to communicating like a pro is integrating a commitment to building and strengthening relationships with winning processes.
Break Big Problems Down
Why do workplace communication problems often seem overwhelming? Carroll says it’s because managers tend to tackle the full-blown scenario — a tactic about as effective as shoving a big apple into their mouth whole. To make such problems easier to swallow, she gives managers the tools to break them apart into small bites. Along with helping managers quickly spot signs of trouble with or between individuals on the job, she tells them just what to do and say to resolve uncomfortable situations and avert crises.
The book first examines the secrets to creating and sustaining energized relationships, focusing on setting and communicating expectations. Next, the book focuses on how to use process skills to prevent and solve communication problems. Finally, the book discusses leading collaborative conversations, including giving feedback, coaching, and listening.
Topics for managers include:
• Setting expectations for direct reports with turbo-charged clarity, after getting perfectly clear about their own role and levels of authority with their boss.
• Creating a climate of courtesy and cooperation within their department by taking a little time to express interest in what interests their staff members and to show compassion.
• Asking questions — of themselves and others — to get the core information needed to sustain healthy work relationships and meet business objectives.
• Breaking the judging habit, starting by untangling convenient, demeaning labels — “slacker, lazy, bad attitude” — from the complex truths about people.
• Sharpening listening skills to learn something valuable from every workplace conversation and promote a shared understanding of meaning, not just words.
• Delegating and coaching to motivate employees to figure out how to get a task done and take ownership of the outcome.
Managers also will find a list of frequent problems and action steps for handling them, such as personality conflicts, not listening and what to do when the message that is sent is different from the message that is received.