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May 2009 - Communication and Management: Part 1

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

May 2009

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 productivity 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 The Military Comptroller, I suggested five ways; here are four of them.

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.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

December 2006 - Motivating Others: Communicate Clearly
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