Perhaps the one personal skill that has the greatest impact on your job satisfaction, promotion potential, and career success is your ability to communicate effectively with others. By improving your communications skills at work you increase your ability to achieve success, have your successes noted, and get yourself those promotions you deserve. Here are things you can do to improve your communications skills at work.
When we’re trying to get a point across to someone else we often think long and hard about what we want to say. That is the wrong way to go about it. Instead of focusing on what you want to say to get your point across, you should focus on what you want the other person to hear. Here’s how to be more effective at getting your point across. Read More…
Many times what your employees do not say is as important as what they do say. A manager has to develop the ability to listen to what employees are not saying and dig through that to get to the truth. These two examples will help you understand how and why it is so important to really listen to your employees. Read More…
Some people are reluctant to speak in public or before a group. Managers can’t be. You will hinder your career if you are unable to speak confidently in front of a group.
Like so many other things, public speaking gets easier with practice. You just go out and do it and each time it gets easier. To get you started, here are the 10 steps that show you how. Read More…
We all expect our boss to agree with us when we present a request, but too often he or she says “no.” The problem may not be in what you asked for.
Instead, it may be in how you asked for it. Here are the things you need to remember if you want to get your boss to agree. Read More…
Don’t ever underestimate the power of positive feedback. We are quick to point out to someone when they make a mistake. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge them when they do something right. Giving positive feedback can be a powerful tool for employee motivation. Here’s how to use it most effectively. Read More…
You always want to try positive feedback first, but there are times that isn’t appropriate or effective. When you do need to give negative feedback, there are ways to do it that produce the desired results without creating barriers. Use these steps. Read More…
Many managers and companies fail because they rely too heavily on the people like them and screen out those who disagree with them. That’s why many people surround themselves with people who agree with them, think like them, and support them. When your company culture allows people to challenge ideas, suggestions, and plans, you create an organization of thinking, committed people. If your company culture does not allow dissent you produce an environment of fear.
Not allowing appropriate dissent will kill your company. Here’s how to have disagreements without poisoning the workplace atmosphere. Read More…
The workforce is aging as baby boomer move toward retirement. Gen X managers need to learn how to motivate and manage this talent pool of older workers. It is up to the managers, Gen X or otherwise, to take the lead and create the climate in which these older workers will remain engaged and productive. Here’s how to do it. Read More…
The purpose of business writing is to convey information to someone else or to request information from them. To be effective writing for business, you must be complete, concise, and accurate. Your text should be written in such a way that the reader will be able to easily understand what you are telling or asking them.
Whether you are writing a sales proposal, an email to your department, or an instruction manual for a software package, here are the steps you need to follow to improve your written communications. Read More…
Write Better Emails
Sloppily written emails waste everyone’s time and money. Write better emails and your boss will love it, your employees will understand you better, and you will spend less time repeating things in another email or over the phone.
No matter how you look at it, your success in business depends on your ability to successfully network. Some people consider networking “office politics” and avoid it, but there is much more to it. Successful networking means being able to communicate effectively with your peers and your bosses, but also with your employees. These steps will help you put your improving communications skills to good use to advance in your management career. Read More…
Employees need feedback to know how they are doing and if they are meeting their manager’s expectations. Everyone loves a critique when you offer praise and satisfaction; it’s more challenging when you need to discuss improving performance.
Organizations hold a performance review to provide feedback, encourage employee development and assess employee progress and contribution. Whether an employee is meeting and exceeding job expectationsis a critical component of the performance review feedback.
A formal performance review challenges the manager’s communication skills because the employee understands that the performance review will affect his compensation. This can cause conflict, anxiety and hurt feelings.
Regardless of how your organization practices performance feedback, when you need to hold a difficult conversation, these phrases and approaches will help.
Tactics for Providing Feedback
Your performance is outstanding: This communication is easy, but you can improve its impact and effect. Mention why and give examples of the reasons for rating the employee’s performance as outstanding. The employee will learn from your examples and you can encourage her to do more of the actions identified as noteworthy.
More: 5 tips for effective employee recognition.
You are currently performing and your performance can be improved: Communicate that the employee is performing and meeting the expectations of the job’s requirements, but he has the opportunity to improve performance and aim to become an outstanding contributor.
Outline the areas that need attention.
Indicate that while his performance qualifies him for a raise because he’s successfully carrying out the most important job requirements, you’d like to see improvement in specific areas.
Point out that if the employee is to earn the largest possible pay increase each year, he needs to improve current performance to accomplish that goal.
Discuss the areas in which he has the greatest opportunity for improvement.
Your performance is not meeting expectations: Note that while we’ve discussed his performance during weekly meetings, it is not improving and it’s time to talk about a plan of action. All employees are expected at a minimum to perform their job expectations.
Indicate the key performance areas that need improvement before you can determine that his performance is meeting minimum job expectations.
Point out that the employee is not performing the minimum job expectations that you discussed for the year. You might add, “Perhaps I am not communicating this information clearly so that you understand the implications of your continued poor performance. I’ve decided that our next step is a performance improvement planin which we set goals, make agreements, set deadlines and due dates and meet frequently to assess progress.”
The employee does not understand what you are telling him: Do not continue to repeat the same information when an employee does not seem to understand what you are trying to communicate. Find other ways to say the same thing and hope that one of them will clearly communicate your concerns. (Keep in mind that sometimes a lack of clarity signals disagreement.)
Tell the employee that you are open to any questions that might help clarify the points he doesn’t understand. Lastly, ask him to summarize his understanding of your key areas of concern. (You can then determine what is not understood and how far apart you are in communicating.)
The employee disagrees with what you are telling him: When you have tried to clearly communicate the problems you note with an employee’s performance and the employee disagrees, questioning is one recommended approach.
- Can you provide examples that will show me what is wrong about my assessment of your performance?
- What do you think that I am misunderstanding about the performance that I observed regularly this quarter?
The feedback that I have received from your coworkers, team members, and other managers is consistent with my observations.
Consequently, I know that you disagree with my assessment, but I haven’t heard anything today that makes me want to alter it. For now, my assessment will stand. I will be happy to discuss your performance further in a month at our weekly meeting after I have seen evidence of improvement in these areas…
Summarizing to ensure understanding: Tell the employee: “John, will you summarize our discussion here today so that I know that you and I are on the same page?”
Express confidence in the employee’s ability to learn, grow, change, or improve: “I am confident that you will be able to make the changes that we have discussed today. I believe that you will be able to make these improvements because you have the talent and skills needed for above average performance. I am available to help you when you encounter barriers to your success or if you feel you will miss a due date or deadline. Just let me know when this occurs as soon as you are aware of it.”
Establish the plan for follow-up: State: “Let’s make a plan together to pursue these improvements. I want to have feedback points frequently enough so that we know when a problem is occurring. Take the time between now and Thursday to come up with a plan to make these changes. On Thursday, you and I can agree on the goals and timelines for the plan. I’ll think about it also and come prepared with my ideas.”
Reach agreement on an action plan: Ask the employee: “Do you agree that this is an achievable plan? We have put this plan together and I am confident that you will be able to accomplish the needed improvements within the timelines we developed. Do you agree? What concerns do you have that we can talk about today?”
Announcing a pay decision that that will be unpopular: Tell the employee: “Based on your performance this year, I have determined that you are not eligible for a salary increase. Because you have not achieved your job expectations, you will not receive a raise this cycle. I will be happy to discuss this further in 4-6 months after I have seen sustained improvement in your performance.”
State the amount of the salary increase and the amount of pay that the increase will bring in the employee’s paycheck with a new salary increase. Percentages are not always motivating. While employee will likely do the math, your goal is to make him aware of the change in pay.
- Your salary increase is $500, bringing your total salary to $55,000.
When you communicate clearly and avoid a defensive reaction, you can express your expectations in a way that the employee hears. Speak so that employee listens, comprehends and improves–after all, isn’t that the goal?