A communication skills blueprint to help leaders and managers engage, influence and inspire their people
Let’s be honest. Even when we have the budget and bandwidth to create innovative, eye-catching and maybe even award-winning comms campaigns, we often know we won’t make the impact we could.
That’s because line managers in our organisations – after all, still the most trusted source of information for the majority of employees – often don’t have the communication skills or confidence to support and deliver the message.
Even though a manager’s primary job is to get results by influencing others, people so often end up in management roles – sometimes very senior ones – without having developed or been trained in the capabilities they need to succeed, including the essential engagement skills.
From an internal communication perspective, that means cascade briefings are poorly delivered if at all, meaningful dialogue is non-existent and major change gets too little ownership or frontline support. And the end result: our beautifully crafted communications don’t get off the ground, never mind land at their destination.
Briefing or eulogy?
We’ve seen this problem many times over the years. Line managers reading major change announcements as if they are giving a eulogy at a funeral – for a person they never met nor cared about. The result of these efforts often ends in disengaged teams.
There’s nothing more de-motivating for staff than to see leaders say one thing and do another. The disconnect between words and deeds leads to a loss of respect and trust that is difficult to win back.
The key to engagement
It is managers’ communication confidence and competence that really makes the difference in successful engagement and internal communication activity. Up-skilling line managers is nearly always the single most important step companies can take to improve communication, drive up employee engagement and enhance employee experience.
Of course, designing and rolling out training takes time and demands real commitment from the organisation. For example, we trained over 100 communications ‘super users’ in our work to help HARTMANN build a world-class business.
The results were fantastic, with managers all around the world getting behind the key messages and adding their own local examples to bring the messages to life where they work. Global communication with a local accent – and genuine dialogue about how HARTMANN people can contribute to the success of their business.
Five essential communication skills
Over the years, we’ve delivered our communication skills workshops to hundreds of leaders and managers, helping them become confident communicators. We’ve done this in companies including AstraZeneca, Capital One, TetraPak and Virgin Media and have written a handy guide for busy managers on the topic.
Through all of that work, we’ve isolated what we believe are the five essential skills of the confident communicator:
- Motivating teams and individuals
- Creating psychological safety
- Communicating change
- Running great meetings online and in-person (including generating dialogue)
- Presenting with impact
Of course, there are many more skills that can be part of a manager’s communication skills toolkit. But those are the five areas where we believe building capability pays the biggest dividends.
Looking to equip your people with essential communication skills that inspire action? Contact us today for a free no-obligation chat with one of our experts.