3 Tips to Improve Manager Communication

Last updated on May 24, 2022 at 04:15 pm

Manager communication has been a top challenge facing internal comms professionals for years. This is because line managers aren’t often great communicators. Often managers are promoted because they are the best at performing a specific task, but not because they have great people or communication skills. This can have serious repercussions for your company. Many organizations take for granted that frontline managers know how to communicate effectively. But then they are frustrated when manager communication is unsuccessful. But acknowledging this skill gap is not enough. We need to contribute to a solution. Here are three ways to improve line manager communication.

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Review Current Programs

Review line manager training and onboarding programs with HR and operations to see what comms training you already have. It’s possible that training already exists but isn’t being reinforced or hasn’t been updated to account for different situations. Either way, do not assume things are completely broken. Instead, review what is available and have the teams responsible for the curriculum contribute to the solution.

Ask for Manager Feedback

Ask frontline managers for their feedback on what you’re asking them to communicate. Do this using employee surveys, focus groups, and observations. 

Part of the challenge managers have in conveying important information may be how we present the messages to them. Have we provided talking points? Did we clearly state expectations for when and how messages should be shared with employees? Maybe the skills are there, but the resources are not. Observations can be a powerful tool in understanding what managers need from communicators to be successful. Sit in on an all-team or area leadership meeting to see how information is shared. What are managers referencing when sharing information? What’s the tone? Are they able to answer employee questions with confidence?

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Follow the Data

To help your managers become better communicators, look at the data and follow the KPIs. Which managers or areas of the business are high-performing? What are they doing better or differently from teams that struggle to achieve their KPIs? 

Business outcomes often have a direct correlation to effective communication. Chances are you’ll find great communication skills when you find managers who are achieving goals consistently. Learn from them. And ask them for help creating new tools and resources to achieve the same success. Peer-to-peer learning is very successful with frontline managers who are sometimes skeptical of things coming from corporate.

Improve Manager Communication Today

We can’t just wait for others to solve this problem for us. We need frontline managers to be great communicators now. Since we are communication experts, we need to work with other business owners to ensure training and support are provided. We also need to advocate that communication skills should be part of the hiring and promotion process. If we work together, we can finally take the lack of line manager communication skills off our challenge list.

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