Managers + Communication = Results
No one can deny the importance of managers. One of the biggest companies on the face of the planet — cough Google cough — tried to prove just the opposite through an internal project called “Oxygen” back in 2012.
Their attempt resulted in the conclusion that mangers are not just important, but they are crucial to the success of any organization, and it is a mistake to assume otherwise. The project’s outcomes were summarized in what was called “Oxygen 8 Behaviors of Great Managers,” which are listed here:
- A manager is a good coach.
- A manager should empower the team and does not micromanage.
- A manager expresses interest/concern for team members’ success and personal well-being.
- A manager is productive and results-oriented.
- A manager is a great communicator — one that listens and shares information.
- A manager helps with career development.
- A manager has a clear vision/strategy for the team.
- A manager has key technical skills that will help advise the team.
These 8 behaviors seem distinct at a first, but reading between the lines, there is a common trait that connects all 8 behaviours — communication.
Managers spend 80% of their time communicating. Whether it is communicating with staff, senior managers, vendors or other stakeholders, a great deal of a manager’s ability to achieve goals depends upon his/her ability to communicate clearly and effectively. The moment managers stop communicating or begin to hide information, intentionally or unintentionally, bad things happen, as demonstrated in the following two quotes :
“The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel and misrepresentation.” — C. Northcote Parkinson
“The less people know, the more they yell.” — Seth Godin
Communication Traits of Good Managers
On one hand, communicating in the workplace helps advance work and allows organizations to achieve their goals and the corporate strategy. On the other hand, communicating in the workplace helps foster several traits that will shape the organization as a whole. These traits are:
(This one is the most obvious!) When managers communicate frequently, anyone sitting at the other end of the table will definitely appreciate the simple fact that they are being kept in the loop on key issues. Over time, this will develop a feeling of trust towards the manager, hence creating a solid relationship foundation for the future.
To be considered professional in the workplace, a good manager does not involve his/her emotions and personal judgment in communication with others. Frequent communication regarding work related issues are one of the main characteristics of a professional manager, and this can have an impact on others — no matter how good or bad the relationship is, it forces others to respond with equally respectful language and manner.
Professionalism also ties back to trust. A professional manager is more trusted with information than one who isn’t.
A successful and results-oriented team has to be a solid team. In the world of management, be it project management or management consulting, there are stages of team building that each team must go through:
A manager’s responsibility throughout these team-building stages is to communicate with his/her team, especially in the early stages (forming, storming and norming). The solidarity of the team will depend greatly on the manager’s communication skills in overcoming obstacles and guiding team members to the performing stage. Once the performing stage is achieved, the team become so cohesive and uniformed that it will require the managers just to communicate the essential information for the team to get the job done within the required time.
When we talk about honesty in the workplace, it is usually a cover up for “feedback.” However, not all feedback is equal. On one hand, positive and constructive feedback is always rewarding and accepted by everyone, because it fosters all three previously mentioned traits (Trust, Professionalism and Solidarity). Furthermore, providing positive and constructive feedback that is honest not only creates positive results, but also builds confidence in the receiver and mutual respect on both sides.
On the other hand, negative feedback that is usually conveyed with a degrading or condescending manner, can literally destroy someone’s career or ambition to succeed, especially when it is accompanied by built-up negative emotions that will feed into the way the feedback is being addressed. Usually managers who lack trust and confidence in their ability to manage (I have touched upon this topic in previous article “True Management!”) use negativity as a defence mechanism to halt the advancement of any team member that they feel can jeopardize their career.
To build a communication culture that thrives on swapping information constantly, a culture that is transparent, is to truly harness the power of communication to its full potential. Many team members in the workplace feel completely neglected or undermined when they find out that management has decided on a change that is crucial or is tightly related to their work behind closed doors, without even telling them about it and with the expectation that employees will agree with the change and keep on working. This is WRONG!
Transparency keeps everyone in the light, not the shadow. No matter how good or bad the news could be, it is part of a manager’s (or the entire management team’s) responsibility to communicate transparently with their subordinates, so that, one, they feel trusted; two, they feel appreciated; and, three, they are able to perform and achieve the results required of them without any fear in the back of their minds due to lack of missing information or non-transparency.
In the world of management consulting, communication can prove to be decisive, and to omit or share information can cause a firm to gain or lose a client. Therefore, consultants are always encouraged to keep their clients in the loop and make them feel that they are valued through continues engagement and positive feedback.