Managers: 5 Ideas for Engaging Employees by Communicating More Effectively

You hired smart, experienced people for your team, but you still face challenges in getting the best from every team member.

One challenge: creating focus. With all the pressures employees face, it’s easy for them to get distracted. And when team members aren’t clear about priorities, they spend hours on low-value work and fail to invest time in the projects that matter most to the team and organization.

What’s a manager to do?

Simple. Use communication to create focus, increase motivation and build engagement. Of course you know the essential role that you and other managers play in effective communication. You set context for employees, indicating what’s important and how to work to achieve individual success while helping the company achieve its goals.

That’s why you should follow these 5 ideas for engaging employees through communication:

1. Understand which aspects of your job require communicating — and choose the best ways to do so

Use this exercise to explore the link between communication and how you do your job.

  • First, find a lined piece of paper. Quickly jot down 10 tasks you complete on a regular basis. This should take you no more than three minutes — the idea is to record top-of-mind activities you spend time on.

2. Set aside time to communicate

Of course you’re busy — in fact, you probably feel like the entertainer in Las Vegas who spins a whole row of plates while juggling bowling pins.

But communication is so essential to engaging employees that you must make it one of your top five priorities.

To do so:

  • Be selective about which meetings you attend. The most successful managers these days don’t accept every invitation — they say no to meetings that aren’t critical. By reducing the number of meetings you need to go to, you free up time for your team.

3. Articulate your story

When you’re communicating routine, everyday topics, you don’t need much preparation — just do it! But when you’re sharing something more significant — your plans for the year, a big initiative, a major change — you need to build your story.

That’s when you need to put information in context for your team members by articulating:

  • What: If your message is part of a bigger effort, start with what’s going on in the company.

4. Use persuasion to motivate your team

Yes, it’s true that a key element of your role is to be part coach and part cheerleader: calling plays, overcoming obstacles and keeping up team members’ spirits even when things get tough.

That’s why you need to use these persuasive communication techniques:

  • Demonstrate that you value all ideas. Listen with an open mind and encourage employees to share their points of view. Example: Say, “Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Nick. You’ve got some exciting ideas on how we can improve customer service.”

5. Make meetings meaningful

You may attend a lot of boring, useless meetings (hopefully fewer than before, if you’ve followed the advice in tip #1). But when you call the meeting, make sure it’s productive.
The first step is to avoid trying to “run” your meeting; instead, look at your role as facilitating your team to create learning, develop solutions, uncover issues, engage in dialogue and reach consensus.
Before scheduling, ask yourself, “Is this meeting necessary?” If your main objective is to simply share information, there are much more efficient venues — including email — than a meeting.
Do organize a meeting if your purpose is to:

  • Reach consensus on an issue

Now that you’ve decided a meeting is a good idea, invest time in making it worthwhile by:

  • Defining objectives. Are you solving a problem, coming to a decision or gathering perspectives? No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s essential to articulate your objectives. That way, you create focus on what needs to get done.

Communication takes work, but it’s worth it to help employees understand what’s important, stay focused on what will help them be successful and feel empowered, motivated and engaged.

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In Dec 2021, we lost Alison to a five-year battle with cancer. Alison Davis led Davis & Company for over 35 years setting strategic direction for the firm.

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