Like all good managers, Bill Fort, VP of Business Development for First Alliance Home Mortgage, knows that great communication is a key tenet of successful leadership. In fact, many managers spend most of their day simply communicating with staff, customers, and other contacts. But all too often, managers lose touch with how to conduct this important skill most effectively. When leaders learn how to communicate with their staff in meaningful ways, they will help the company grow.
There’s no way around it – managers have to communicate in order to do their job. In fact, according to an article published by Rice University, managers spend as much as 80 percent of their workday simply communicating. Both inside and outside of the organization, leaders must talk, listen, share, and present information.
Why is communication so important? According to Bill Fort of First Alliance, it helps managers better understand their staff, what’s going on in the company, and what’s happening outside of the organization’s doors so that they can relay this information back and help the company move toward its goals.
Many business experts suggest that transparency in communication is crucial. Alan Hall explains in a Forbes article that whether the news is good or bad, it’s important to be “forthright, honest and timely.” Workers appreciate hearing the truth and will place more trust in their manager if trust is placed in them. And more importantly, they need to understand the future plans for the business in order to help it succeed. In a branch manager workshop survey conducted by Jim Ambrose, he found that 61 percent of respondents didn’t know the business plan for the branch. Among employees who received a bonus, 60 percent didn’t know how that bonus was calculated. According to Ambrose, this is a major problem.
It should go without saying that when employees aren’t familiar with a manager’s plans for the company, they are less likely to perform in the company’s interest. As Ambrose points out, “The purpose of creating a bonus plan is to change behavior of the employees, and most of the employees are not sure what behavior needs to change in order to receive their bonus.”
Thoughtful communication can be accomplished through many forms, including emails, meetings, phone calls, speeches, and even social media updates. It can be transmitted through blogs and other forms of web communication, as well.
A manager’s message should express passion and drive for the company and its future. Ambrose explains, “They want to know you have a mission, a direction, a passion for what you want the business to accomplish.” When leaders continually communicate a vision for how goals can be achieved, employees will understand their role and expectations. A display of love and dedication to the organization and its future can quickly transmit to employees so that they feel the same passion and goals.
First Alliance Home Mortgage is a company that is dedicated to employing a seasoned staff that knows how to inspire and lead its employees effectively.
“The biggest mistake new leaders make is not understanding what leadership really is. It is not bossing people around,” explains Bill Fort, VP of Business Development for First Alliance Home Mortgage. “A good leader will lead by example and work harder than the rest of the team. Once that happens, he will instinctively be able to hold people accountable in a non-hypocritical way and gain respect from his subordinates,”
“We have a lot of Branch Mangers requesting to work for us. We make our decision by evaluating the 4 C’s - Character, Competence, Commitment, and Closings. The most important of these is Character,” Bill Fort explained.
Managers, who demonstrate these qualities will be respected and followed by their staff, suggest First Alliance leaders.
Celebrating achievements is another fundamental tenet for any successful manager. It’s important to recognize activities that helped the team achieve the manager’s vision. At the same time, managers should bring up any issues that are preventing those goals from being achieved. If leaders are clear about their performance expectations, employees will respond accordingly.
While transparency, honesty, and forthright communication are all critical components, positivity should not be overlooked. According to Rice University, research indicates that positive communication strategies lead to more productive and positive workers. This entails recognition, support and encouragement. To maintain that positive atmosphere, leaders should discourage gossip and negative talk among their employees. Making positive, personal connections with employees can go a long way.
It’s easy to forget that the act of listening is a key part of good communication. It’s important to offer staff members a podium to express their opinions and input. This can allow managers to gain valuable ideas and perhaps even learn things they didn’t know about their employees. Along those same lines, it’s important that managers put an effort into giving their full attention when meeting and speaking with their staff. This means they should put down what they’re doing and offer an open ear.
Building solid management skills can be a challenge. Leaders may be dedicated to both the company and their staff, but what’s most important is that managers bring those two goals together through strong communication. According to Bill Fort, the right communication strategy will help both the staff and company succeed.
Carly Fiske contributed to this article.