Are your communication skills letting you down as a leader?

Your workers need you to communicate better – Here’s how you can

Great leadership is built on effective communication skills. But, according to a recent Robert Half study, these are skills that leaders don't always excel at. To really learn how to communicate with your team it's worth investing in some communication skills training. But why is communication training so important? Because too many of us are doing it badly.

The number one skill that workers want their leaders to improve is their communication.

Robert Half Management Resources found that the number one skill workers wanted their leaders to improve was their communication. Of those surveyed, 30 per cent said this was the place where their manager needed to improve most. Younger workers felt even more strongly, with 36 per cent of those in the 18-34 age group putting communication at the top of the list.

So how can leaders improve their communication skills? That's a short question with a very long answer, but let's see if we can offer some practical tips to get you started:

1: Get comfortable with communication technology

Part of good communication is the medium. Author and entrepreneur Deep Patel writes for Forbes that to communicate well leaders should be comfortable with digital communication. This is particularly true with younger workers, who are more comfortable in that digital space. This means getting familiar with virtual communication methods like video conferencing.

"How company leaders present themselves on camera will have a direct impact on company success," Patel says. "The best way to improve video and virtual communication proficiency is through practice."

Communication isn't just about what you say, it's about how you say it.Communication isn't just about what you say, it's about how you say it.

2: Don't assume

We all have in-built assumptions and prejudices that influence the way we think. This becomes a problem when we assume others think the same way. Brian D Evans, founder of BDE Ventures, says we shouldn't assume that what we say makes sense to others just because it makes sense to us. Make a point of checking that the person you're talking to comes away with the understanding you want them to.

The other side of this is that you should do your best to understand what others are trying to communicate to you – don't just assume that you know what they're talking about. Which leads to our third tip: follow up. 

3: Follow it up

It's all very well communicating clearly and making plans, but unless it's followed by confirmation and action nothing will be achieved, says Laurel & Wolf founder Leura Fine. Make sure everyone is on the same page – not just about what you're communicating, but about what happens next.

Communication is a subtle, complicated skill, and there's far more to doing it effectively than we can get in to here. ICML's communication courses offer an in-depth insight into this crucial leadership skill. 


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