If you’re a manager at your place of work, you may be thinking you communicate well with your staff — but you could be very wrong.

First, understand that if you are a poor communicator, your staff members are unlikely to let you know so. After all, who really wants to tell the boss she’s a poor communicator? So poor communication is self-sustaining: you don’t know you’re not communicating well because no one “communicates” to you that you are, and so on you go on your merry, poor-communicator way.

Here are some specific tips:

Use effective listening techniques. Good communication really is mostly good listening. If you don’t know or understand what effective listening is, learn it. Check out this link to a great page on Ohio’s Wright State University’s website about effective listening.

Ask for feedback from your staff. Ask them questions such as, Do you think we communicate well here? Do you have any ideas as to how we may improve? When we speak, are you clear about what I’m saying?

Work with your staff to come to come up with a better communication process for everyone. Decide, for example, how disagreements will be handled, how best for management and staff to communicate, how best for staff members to communicate with each other (when is e-mail best, when do you prefer face-to-face communication, etc.).

Take a hard look at your organizational structure. For example, do you tell one of your staff members to tell other members of your staff about a decision you’ve made? If so, miscommunication is almost guaranteed! Direct communication — where a manager herself makes an announcement to staff members — is best.

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