Practical tips for managers on enhancing your communication for productivity and engagement

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I read this week a useful and practical article on Leadership in the Washington Post regarding the challenges for managers in the workplace to effectively communicate with employees.  That included some sound tips for addressing challenges for enhancing productivity in the workplace (Tips for overcoming workplace misunderstandings). Because of varied backgrounds, experiences and perceptions, people can interpret messages from their managers quite differently, leading to frustration, breakdown in trust, inaction, poor decisions, confusion and conflict.

Tips For Enhancing Productivity In The Workplace

Practical Tips For Managers On Enhancing Your Communication For Productivity And Engagement

Some specific steps for enhancing productivity in the workplace from the article and from our experience in our organisational culture and leadership training at Viventé:

Be straight: Building trust requires being honest and straightforward.  No beating around the bush.  Why?  Humans are hardwired to trust their emotional instincts above all else and use emotions over reason as a first screen for all information received (  Accordingly we hear negative news first and loudest – so beating around the bush only amplifies the anticipation of the negative.  It’s also critical to deal with any fears by asking questions, getting things out in the open enabling you to clarify matters.

Be respectful and open to others’ points of view: Even though you are boss, you still want to build positive, collegial relationships that will ensure your employees are engaged, motivated and satisfied with their work. It’s important to understand the perspectives and concerns of your employees. You may not have all the information nor the answers.  Smart managers ask open questions, listen for understanding before putting their own opinions forward. 

Build relationships: Conversations do not always have to centre on work. Get to know your employees and what matters to them. Be authentic by selectively disclosing some of yourself as well.

Manage change with finesse: If it is true that people resist change, then we’d still be living in caves.  What humans are wired to avoid is threat and loss.  We spot loss or gain instantly at a personal and an emotional level and when people perceive loss, they defend or fight to avoid that loss (  Whereas we are confident and curious when we feel secure or when we see the benefits of change will be greater than the loss.  Skillful change managers manage at an individual level, understanding perceived gains and losses and monitoring for loss aversion.

Manage any interpersonal conflicts: We often think of conflict as being bad. Sure it can be hostile, uncomfortable and even costly.  But conflict can open new ways (if we open our minds) to new ways to view a situation and new solutions.  Successful conflict managers identify needs and fears of each person or group in the conflict, look for common needs and objectives (although the needs may be expressed differently) and explore options for working towards co-operation.

Balance with the positive: If a conversation is uncomfortable, there will be a natural tendency to cut it short to minimise the discomfort – the toughest thing is to keep doing it.   But the gain sits on the other side of pain when managers stay the course.  Managers who, over time, generally work on a ratio of at least three positive messages to every one negative, find that negative message easier to give and to receive.

Conversations based on trust and respect outside of position, using the tips outlined above can improve people’s productivity and engagement in the workplace. And that has to be good for performance!

Vivente is and executive leadership and management company in Sydney, Australia.
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