“People” issues are perhaps the most time-consuming in any organisation, large or small. Because each person is different, differences of opinion will naturally arise. And then, there are the laws in place which dictate your interactions with employees. Communication in the workplace is, therefore, a delicate dance of management skills and motivating persons to do what they should and even more. Below are some points to help get the best from your employees.
Proper Instructions: Many employers blame their team for not carrying out instructions in the way they should. Truth is, not everyone would understand what’s in your head or heart. Don’t just ask if people understand your instructions, ask how they would go about the task at hand, so that you can determine whether they really understand. While this may take a bit more time in the beginning, it can save a lot of time in the end.
Empathy: I use this word on a weekly basis. Why? Because it is one of the most important words in our human existence. Try to see the project through the eyes of the employee; put yourself in his or her position. I remember a CEO being angry with a staff member for “staying too long at the bank.” He reminded the staff member that he was CEO with more responsibilities than any other staff member and yet he never spent that much time at the bank. Reality check: the CEO was a member of the Platinum Banking elite, so he never had to line up! Constant criticism will demotivate your staff and cause rifts between management and teams.
Caring: Yes, there have been financially successful owners of companies with a nonchalant attitude. In fact, some of them could rub shoulders with Hitler. But, how much more pleasant it is to exist in harmony, especially when the company may be small in size! The saying goes, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This holds true in the workplace as well. Personal contact is the key to building trust and a good rapport. Don’t just communicate by e-mail. Take a few steps and walk to the office of the staff member, so that you see each other and can talk, face to face.
Listen: Beyonce has a song with that title, and we could actually learn a lot from the song! The more you listen, the more you understand the people who are working with you. If employees have concerns, treat them seriously. Value their opinions and they will begin to value yours too. Listening entails feedback and it is important to give employees tips and encouragement, along with guidance on how to perform in an optimal manner.
Take time. We are all busy people, but taking time to meet at least once weekly with your main teams is very important; also important – the one-on-one meetings. Remember, part of being a manager is actually managing people. Set aside time to meet with employees and they will feel a sense of pride in being part of your team. Remember the golden rule in business: treat them as you’d want them to treat you.
(Veoma Ali is an advertising executive with a Ph.D in Communications and a Master’s in Business Administration.)