Knock down these barriers to communication

Communication is at the heart of good leadership. If you can’t express yourself clearly, and people can’t understand what you’re trying to say, you’ll fail as a manager. Here’s some advice from Forbes on what kind of obstacles to look for, and how to overcome them:

• Insufficient communication. Employees need information to do their jobs effectively. Keeping them in the dark about what’s going on in your organization and industry prevents them from serving customers efficiently and making good decisions about priorities. Some information is confidential and proprietary, of course, but in general you should strive to share as much as possible.

• Too much information. At the opposite extreme, employees can feel overwhelmed if you communicate too much. Don’t send dozens of emails to your entire workforce. Target information to the right people, and keep them short so people can find the point quickly and easily. Make more information available for people who want it instead of dumping everything into one huge message.

• Difficult communication structures. Don’t place too many rules on how people communicate. Requiring employees to reach out to other departments only through their managers can slow or even strangle the flow of information. Encourage open communication in all directions throughout your organization.

• Poor timing. Do you send out urgent emails at 4:45 p.m. on a Friday, or insist that employees check their email at night or on the weekend? Do your in-person meetings eat up valuable working hours? Consider the timing of your communication so you’re not getting in the way of employees’ productivity.

• Not listening to employees. Communication shouldn’t be a one-way street. If you’re doing all the talking, employees will tune out. If you’re not asking questions and listening to people, you won’t know what’s going on in your organization. Make a point of getting feedback from all levels and paying attention to what people are saying, or you’ll miss important news and developments from the front lines.

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