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Communicating as a Leader

The 3 A’s for Manager Communication: Ask. Answer. Attend

Timothy Wright asked:

Just about every employee opinion survey, measurement of employee engagement or motivation, and 360-evaluation brings up the importance of managers’ communication with their people.

Staff members who give their managers high scores in communications typically show higher levels of motivation, stronger engagement, better performance. Those who score lower in any of those areas quite often respond that their managers do not communicate clearly or often enough.

Isn’t it ironic that something as complex as interpersonal communication can be improved or damaged by very simple tactics?

Running in a December afternoon rain shower, I followed my mind over thoughts of the Three A’s of strong(er) communications.

Admittedly, the tactics below are not new information. That does not mean they are not beneficial.

Ask what you do not know. Too often we hear we should know the answer before we ask the question. Not so. That approach limits learning. A manager should be as eager to learn as anyone. In fact, the manager who demonstrates Questioning Mind behavior boosts hers to be a Learning Organization. What better way to promote employee engagement and performance than by promoting continuous curiosity for knowledge?

Answer from your heart and from your head. Managers and leaders are assumed to have thought-filled answers. Your answers should have feeling as well. People enjoy working for/with those who care. Care comes from the heart. Granted, you want to balance your answers with proportionate thinking and feeling parts. That means you may do some editing in the moments between your feeling/thinking and your speaking.

Attend what you say. You’ve heard the adage, Think before you speak. It is equally important to listen as you speak, to pay attention to your message. It can be too easy to say things not really meant. Listen objectively to what you say, and give yourself and your communication partner great opportunities: to correct, to add, to qualify, to verify and to validate. Perhaps most important is the opportunity to avoid the “Did I say that?! I didn’t say that?! Did I…?!”

Communication is the most critical component of the work we do, whatever that work is. It follows that it’s a pretty good idea to dedicate the effort to make that component more effective.

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