How managers can effectively communicate in the workplace

By Robert Half on 1st April 2024

Whether you’re a manager at a large company or a small business, the way you communicate with your employees can pave the road to success — or create a path of increasing uncertainty. 
Poor communication can result in distrust, conflict and even employee turnover. On the other hand, strong employee communication can be a great retention tool.
Good communication can boost morale and productivity and promote loyalty. Do you find some members of your team seem to be constantly frustrated? Is there suddenly an unhealthy amount of office gossip? Is morale suffering? 

Related: How to boost employee morale
These may be signs that the lines of communication are becoming congested. Here are five ways to fix the problem — or even better, prevent it in the first place. 

1. Keep workplace communication flowing 

Employees might worry when they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, creating an environment where speculation takes root and rumours thrive. If you don’t give people information, they’re going to start guessing. 

This doesn’t mean employees have to know everything you know, but keeping the team informed about issues that may affect them creates a sense of transparency.

2. Remain accessible as a manager

Easy access is important, especially in developing situations. This can be achieved by leaving your office door open when possible, organising frequent catch-ups and regularly updating staff. In times of uncertainty, you may want to provide a time for questions during a meeting or offer a way to submit anonymous questions people might be thinking about but are afraid to ask.   

3. Choose the right time for the intended message 

Even when the need to communicate a message is apparent, the time and place to deliver it may not be. Which will be more effective: announcing something in a weekly meeting, during a one-on-one conversation, or through an office email? 

Consider how the information will affect employees individually and collectively. Is it better to directly approach one of your employees about adhering to deadlines, or is the problem more widespread, justifying an email to the entire team? 

Related: 7 ways to improve management communication

4. Use the right tone when talking to employees

The words you choose and your tone of voice can impact the effectiveness of your communication. The delivery and approach are key. You don’t have to sugarcoat things, but it’s better to address a problem with a solution than to come off as badgering. 

5. Beware of nonverbal cues 

Chances are, your employees are seeking your approval — or at least looking to avoid your disapproval. Body language can send subtle or strong messages. 

As busy as you may be, take the time to make proper eye contact or give a friendly nod when you walk by people in the office. When they come to you with a question, don’t just tell them you’re listening; show you respect them by looking at them while they speak. 
Obstacles are a normal part of business, particularly in an uncertain business climate, but effective communication allows for transparency and for problems to be resolved more efficiently.

Want to learn more? You can browse our hiring and management advice page for the latest leadership tips and insights to make sure you stay ahead. Or alternatively, you can contact one of our experts today.

More From the Blog...