Being the boss can be difficult—just ask any manager anywhere on earth. From the Queen Ant all the way up to the President of the world (we have one of those, right? I don’t really follow politics), the saying is true: it’s lonely at the top. Well, it doesn’t have to be. If you find yourself in a management position and are having trouble communicating with your employees, there are steps that you can take. And I’m not talking about marathon-length meetings or sending out mass emails filled with the latest soul-crushing variations on popular internet memes; I’m talking about developing actual communication skills that you can use to unify your underlings into a Voltron-esque super weapon of mass destru- uh, efficiency. So, loosen that tie, moisten those contact lenses, and get ready for a crash course in management communication.
1. Be honest
Many leaders like to consolidate their positions by hoarding information. The technical term for bosses like this is, unfortunately, so obscene that I can’t type it onto my computer without my current virus protection program kicking in and napalm-sterilizing the entire city-block. But rest assured that when people talk about managers who hoard information, it’s not complimentary. This is because those who work underneath them are forced to try to do their own jobs to the best of their ability, while vital data is being jealously concealed so that the boss can appear important. True leaders don’t play that way. A good boss will act as a sieve through which important details flow, catching only the debris and junk that would otherwise clog up the drain (nice metaphor, huh?).
2. Don’t use corporate jargon and euphemisms
Quick, if you want to improve your communication as a leader, then here are some terms that you need to never use again.
- Corporate Values
- Best practice
- End of play
- Over the wall
You know what? There are just too many to include here (and by “here” I mean “on the internet”), so I’m not going to continue. Hopefully, you get the idea. If you want to improve your communication, then don’t speak in corporate code; just say what you need to say in plain-old English (or whichever language you speak). Everyone will appreciate your clarity, and be much less likely to do mocking impersonations of you in the breakroom. Oh, and on a personal note, not everyone is a huge fan of being condescendingly referred to as ‘rockstar,’ ‘guru,’ ‘ninja,’ or even ‘bro,’ so just keep that crap to yourself. It’s possible to show employee appreciation without having to sound like your stereotypical cell phone salesman.
3. Respect your employees’ intelligence
Maybe you got to where you are because you’re inherently smarter than those with whom you work. Maybe you got the position because your grandpa is the CEO. Either way, you need to remember that those who work under you are just as qualified to do their jobs as you are to do yours (or maybe even more so, if you took the nepotism path to success). As such, you don’t need to treat them like ignorant children when explaining complex issues. In fact, keep the “explaining” part to a minimum, otherwise you end up with day-long meetings and employees with dead eyes and crushed spirits. If your workers don’t understand something, then they can always come to you for clarification—that way, they’ll get the information that they need, and you won’t have insulted their intelligence by talking to them as though they were a bunch of drooling morons.
4. Quit spamming
Ideally, an email from the boss should be something that the average employee will make a high priority to read and respond to. However, when that same boss sends out twenty emails a day, most of which are filled with fantasy-football stats and links to ‘funny’ websites, then the workforce might begin to develop ‘cry-wolf’ attitude, and begin to ignore them. Retain the significance of your messages by only sending out the important ones. If you would like to share something that isn’t work related, mark it as such in the subject line. Oh, and if you have something that you need to say to two or three employees, don’t just send out a group email to the entire office.
5. Don’t try to be a boss and a friend
This may be the most difficult one on the list. I mean, come on, everyone wants to be liked. This can be especially true for bosses, who find that their authority has distanced them from others in the workplace. But when a manager puts friendship ahead of things like efficiency and effectiveness, then everyone suffers. Sure, the employees might enjoy their job a bit more, but without strong leadership that is capable of objectively making difficult decisions, will they even have a job for all that long? Besides, it’s just not possible for friendship between employer and employee to develop naturally, because there will always be an unequal distribution of power. People come to work to earn money and accomplish tasks; if you want them to spend the day hanging out with people they like, then let them stay home.