Without Communication Skills You Can’t be an Effective Manager

Becoming a manager
Becoming a manager

Many individuals are elevated to manager without knowing what it takes to be a manager. When organizations cut budgets they frequently consider alleged “soft skills,” like management and communications training, to be expendable.

However, the truth is that this type of training could be more essential to the success of a manager and his organization than anything else.

Managers Must Learn How to Communicate

Most new managers are more accustomed to receiving directions than to giving them. But managers need their direct reports to help them accomplish their objectives.

As surprising as it sounds, many managers don’t have a clear understanding of their jobs. That is why every manager needs to read his job description carefully. At that point he needs to meet with his manager to talk about and agree on mutual expectations. After the meeting, the new manager should to summarize that discussion in a memo that he shares with his boss and human resources.

Once managers recognize what needs to be done, they’ll be in a position to have conversations with the members of their team to identify the strengths they bring to specific projects.

Active Listening

Communications includes the interaction of two individuals in a constant loop of exchanging thoughts and information. Before you start giving a lot of orders, learn to listen and show sincere interest in the people on your staff. Discover their interests and what they believe they can contribute to the team.

Leave out “I” and focus on “you.” Ask, what do you need to take care of your responsibility better? What difficulties do you face? Your personal communication style might be to go for closure immediately when discussing an assignment. Yet, your immediate report may require more time to think through a situation to arrive at the best solution.

You’ll learn this by active listening, a term authored by the eminent psychologist Carl Rogers.

He said, “By consistently listening to a speaker, you are conveying the idea that I’m interested in you as a person, and I think imagine that what you feel is important. I respect your thoughts, and even if I don’t agree with them, I know that they are valid for you. I feel sure that you have a contribution to make. I’m not trying to change you or evaluate you. I just want to understand you. I think you’re worth listening to, and I want to know that I’m thing kind of a person you can talk to.”

Instead of just hearing the sounds that somebody is saying, actively listen to understand the meaning behind the words – picking up on the verbal and non-verbal cues. If you’re not actively listening, you’re just filtering a lot of noise.

Learning to be a Manager

Being a managerExperience is the best educator when you become a manager. You’ve just gained from the good managers you’ve had what worked and what didn’t work. You felt the indifference and experienced the lack of communication from a bad manager.

You respected and learned from a good manager. You weren’t hesitant to state when something wasn’t going right since you realized she would listen, not to pass judgment, but understand the problem and offer positive feedback.

You may feel like a imposter in a job that is new for you. That is normal. In any case, remember you were promoted, not another person. Be decisive and act with certainty and believe that you can do the job well.

That’s advice a former manager of mine could have utilized. She was uncertain to such an extent that she read a new management book each week. Then she scheduled a “kitchen cabinet” meeting for her staff in her apartment every Sunday evening to discuss her management plan for the following week.

She was totally insensitive to the personal needs of her staff. Come to the meeting or get fired. Despite all that preparation, the agency brought in a senior executive over her. She didn’t understand what it meant to be a manager.

Get Coaching

If you believe you have more to learn, retain a professional coach or go to a trusted internal advisor for help. Many organizations, such as the American Management Association, offer training courses. Many local colleges, like NYU, offer short courses in management and communications training.

It takes practice to turn into a skilled communicator. Learn to listen with your head AND your heart. Give clear, succinct and consistent directions. Be certain you’re communicating with understanding.

Don’t be afraid of getting feedback. Ask for it. Remember how much you wanted feedback from your manager and how you wished she would listen to your concerns?

Listening, learning and constructive feedback are the keys to becoming a skilled communicator and ultimately a good manager.

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The Newman Group is a recognized leader in guiding business professionals, celebrities and authors to improve their communications skills in presentations and media interviews.

Our highly skilled and experienced professionals have the expertise in media and presentation training to meet any business situation — from helping an executive to prepare for the challenge of talking to a reporter during a business crisis to presenting a group of investors during an IPO or keeping a celebrity spokesperson on point.