Leaders need to clarify what employees are trying to say

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Even when the leader is trained to be a more effective communicator, it is quite possible that the leader’s frustration with employees might derail any improvement in communication skills. Without training everyone on how to be a better communicator, the leader can take some steps to help ensure that employees get their point across. We’ll explore more on that below.

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Clarifying what employees are trying to say

When we train front line supervisors, managers and team leaders to be more effective communicators, we also train them to clarify what employees are trying to tell them.

Even the most constructive leader can become frustrated when an employee chooses the wrong words, tone, timing and place.

To help, let’s break down the communication steps, where things can go wrong and how to prevent it from happening.

Intent – What is the message you are trying to convey? What do you want the other person to think or do as a result of your communication? Once the supervisor becomes better at this it is still possible that an employee might not have clarified their intent before they begin speaking. Keep an open mind to ‘hear’ what the employee is trying to tell you.

Encode – Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, you have to encode your message with words, tone and body language. Even when the leader begins to choose better words, reduce sarcasm and become more confident, the employees might still choose inappropriate words or use lots of sarcasm. The leader needs to listen with a filter to avoid being provoked with a response that is inappropriate.

Transmit – The physical act of transmitting your message can be impacted by timing, a noisy environment and whether other people are around. When the leader becomes better at choosing the right time and place to deliver the message so that the employee is not embarrassed, it is still possible for the employee to choose the wrong time and place when expressing their point of view. The leader needs to once again coach the employee to be more sensitive to timing and location while at the same time remaining open minded even when the employee uses poor judgement.

Decode – When hearing the message, the receiver’s brain has to decode the message. For the leader this means better listening skills. To help employees, the leader must be prepared to repeat key messages and choose different methods. It also important for the leader to have patience with employees who might jump to the wrong conclusion.

Interpret – This final step in the communication process is in the mind of the receiver. Better listening and clarifying skills will help prevent the wrong assumptions from being made. With employees it will be necessary to clarify what they are saying to make sure the leader understands the message.

Communication continues to be a challenge for many organizations. It is hard work to be aware of not only your own communication skills but also helping your employees become better at communicating.

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