Communication and Management: Part 1
In 1938, legendary business executive and management theorist,
Chester I. Barnard concluded communication was the main task of
managers. Studies since that time indicate senior leaders and managers
place the highest value on effective communication because they know
depends on it. The primary responsibility for communication in any
organization rests with management. Subordinates take cues on how
to communicate from those above them. What can you do to improve
communication in your organization? In a recent article in
Military Comptroller, I suggested five ways; here are four of
Keep Communication channels open. Managers must keep
the channels open in all directions—downward to their subordinates,
upward to their superiors, and horizontally to those at the same level.
Good communication doesn’t just happen; managers have to make it happen.
Encourage feedback. While managers should not encourage
indiscriminate feedback in the form of idle talk or personal gripes,
they must communicate desire for feedback on issues and areas that can
help the organization; then they must thank people for their feedback.
Above all, managers should not react negatively to feedback; that’s the
surest way to put a damper on the process. Feedback helps keep the
manager informed about what is happening in the organization.
Break down barriers to understanding. Make sure you share the same
meaning for words, actions and verbal cues. For example, perhaps
someone’s phone vibrates and the person excuses himself from the room to
take the call. Some may interpret the behavior as rude; others may know
he is expecting a call about his brother who is having open heart
surgery that day. Be careful about drawing inferences or jumping to
conclusions. Good managers break down barriers to understanding.
Communicate often with key personnel. Show a genuine interest in
them and in their ideas. In-so-far as possible, maintain an open door
policy with them; then they will keep you informed and you will be
communicating that you view them as important.
Next month I will
discuss the key ingredient to effective communication—listening.