Obviously managers want to communicate with their teams in the most efficient, productive manner available. Unfortunately every manager has their own ideas about what this means and employees perceive these actions differently. One size management does not fit all. The balance one tries to achieve is being present without being over bearing. Empowering an employee to make their own calls while reassuring them that you are present and invested. Not easy, but the best managers are those who can pull this off.
Communication is more than shooting off a group email or regularly calling lengthy touch-base meetings. Let’s define the role of a manager for starters- a manager’s job is to remove obstacles so that their teams can do their job. That will be our mantra and we will refer back to it often.
There are 3 main types of actual work-place communication 1) Email 2)Phone or 3)Meetings. If you have a 4th type of communication, Chat, then pat yourself on the back. My first recommendation for improving communication is for you and your team to have a business class chat service installed on your main work computer and phone. When you have a quick question for a team member, or they have one for you, chat should be your go-to.
Regardless of the type of communication, let’s look at what your engagement says to employees. If you cannot answer yes to the question “will this __(email/ phone call/ meeting/ chat)__ help remove an obstacle for my employee(s)?” then stop. You need to consider, if it’s not about removing obstacles then it is adding to their workload.
Since you are adding to their workload ask yourself this- “Is this more important than what they are presently working on?”. Again, if the answer is no, stop. You know what your team is focused on and you ought to be able to prioritize whether what you will be communicating is worth distracting them.
Another question is “If I don’t engage them about this right now will it hold up myself or another employee from doing their job?”. You need to be tough on yourself with this one, don’t inflate your needs. You may have a meeting coming up and need to give a status report- thus yes, you need an update from your team in order to do your job. If you are just “checking-in” because that’s what a manager does, stop. Stopping before engaging your team and asking yourself these questions will lead to better quality, more meaningful communication.
Rework your communication strategy by scheduling mile-marker check-ins so that you can keep up with progress. Often you will answer “yes” to the communication questions provided earlier. Invariably you will, out of necessity, interrupt your teams’ workflow. It’s in the companies’ best interest, however, to keep those distractions to a minimum.