In this blog post
Communication Skills for Effective Leadership
Communication is the most important trait any Leader should have to be successful, to nurture and lead successful teams. Displaying strong communication skills instills confidence, motivates team members and culminates in developing trust between the Leader and the team members. In addition, a psychological contract is written between the Leader and his team that creates a sense of belongingness and fosters a sense of community among the team members.
This psychological contract is the key to any organization culture and brings in cohesiveness as each member knows that there is Leader whom they can look up to and the Leader knows that he/she has a team to rely on and believe in for flawless execution.
Context based Communication
Communicating during attrition: A study conducted by Employee benefit news revealed that more than three-fourths of the reasons for attrition is preventable and under the control of the organization. The top reasons cited were career development, work-life balance, compensation, and manager relations, all within the control of the organization (Source: Forbes.com) and in turn the Leaders who are managing the organization.
The communication should be customized based on the target audience as employees who are at different levels in an organization have different expectations. For instance, an employee with 2-3 years of experience would be looking for better compensation and an employee with 10-12 years of experience would be looking for recognition and work-life balance. Therefore, as a Leader holding a key role in the firm the communication should address these aspects:
- If compensation is the issue then a clear message communicating how important the employees are to the firm, clear next steps the firm is planning and also most importantly setting a target dates of when the employees can expect a change in compensation policies within that band of employees (1-3 years of experience).
- According to Frederick Hertzberg, one of the most important factors to keep employees motivated is the intrinsic motivators like recognition, responsibility, involvement in decision making process et al. Since senior employees look for these types of inside-out motivational factors the organization should be flexible enough to provide these if the attrition rate is higher at this level, all it takes is recognition and respect at this level.
- The most important parameter of communication is listening. Lend an ear to each employee’s concerns who is leaving the organization, tabulate it and bucket it under various labels and take necessary steps immediately because this culture always creates a cascading effect on the remaining employees and the only way to win their trust is to implement the lessons learn
- Manager Relations. One of the most important factors for the attrition rate is the manager-employee relations. In most of the organizations the Leaders are inclined to believe what the Manager says about their team members. Though it is correct, one should understand the communication is a two-way and also a closed loop process. So as a Leader one should also give due weight to the members’ feedback about their managers. In addition, as a Leader one has to understand why there is a gap in the first place and which among the following issues (Source: Interact/Harris poll as cited in HBR.org) is prevalent taking the team member perspective into consideration.
Once the issue(s) is established and found authentic the Leader has to instill confidence in each employee that his or her opinion matters by taking necessary steps to address the issues.
Communicating in tough times
When the firm is facing tough times, it becomes imperative for the Leader to clearly communicate to all members of his team. This communication is tricky because the Leader not only should have a plan to mitigate and improve the situation but also boost the low morale of the team members.
Transparent Communication is the key to uphold employees’ spirit during the tough times. Be it good or bad it’s always better that employees’ first hear the news from their Leader rather than anyone else. Misleading statements like ‘everything is great’ is as good as fanning the flames. So always communicate –
a) What happened or is happening – the source or conditions that led to this situation.
In tough times employees want the facts and communicating it transparently not only improves the relations but also boosts the confidence of the team members in their Leader which in turn forges the psychological contract.
b) Decisions that are made – Communicate decisions taken to mitigate the situation.
It is during these tough times that teams look up to Leaders to guide and direct them and look for possible solutions to come out of the crisis.
c) Plans and goals for the future – What does the future hold for us. The teams need confidence and belief that the current crisis is just a passing cloud and that the organization has plans on how to recoup from the crisis and get the things back on track.
To conclude, effective communication at Leadership level is crucial as it can make or break organization culture. The true power of Leadership stems from the fact that when members believe that there is a Leader to take care of them and the Leader believes that there are members whom he/she can rely on.