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People skills are essential as a manager and when talking to employees you’re not always the bearer of good news. Whether it’s an appraisal, handling a personal matter or delivering a message from higher up on the command chain most managers report fear in talking to their employees.
According to a survey by Interact the majority of managers (69%) said that there is something about their role as a leader that makes them uncomfortable communicating with their employees and more than a third (37%) of the managers said that they’re uncomfortable having to give direct feedback about their employees’ performance if they think the employee might respond negatively to the feedback.
In fact, the survey revealed that leaders were uncomfortable with a multitude of things when it comes to communicating with subordinates.
- 20% reported having troubled with demonstrating vulnerability (e.g., sharing mistakes they’ve learned from).
- 20% said recognising employee achievements (e.g., giving praise for a job well done) was a challenge.
- 20% struggle with delivering the “company line” in a genuine way.
- 19% are uncomfortable giving clear directions.
- 16% said crediting others with having good ideas was difficult
- 16% said they speaking face to face rather than by email was a problem.
In order to effectively improve your communication with employees, you need to have a different mindset that allows both sides of the table to feel kind.
1. Be Direct, Be Kind
You can be direct and kind at the same time, you should look at offering feedback as an opportunity for growth. This can be an incentive employee to improve.
Listening allows both sides to feel respected. In an ideal situation, a direct feedback conversation will spark learning and for managers and employees to get on the same page.
3. Don’t Make it Personal
It is easy to take things personally in a feedback conversation and imagine insults or malice. Rather acknowledge everyone’s emotions and work on how to improve.
4. Show Up, Be Present
Make sure you are fully engaged and your undivided attention is on the conversation at hand. Allow some moments of silence and follow up afterwards so that things do not get awkward.
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