Good communication is the most powerful tool a manager has to enhance team performance. Not only does regular, clear communication improve satisfaction levels, but it also supports staff retention and improves productivity.
According to Forbes’ The State Of Workplace Communication In 2023, nearly half of respondents felt their productivity was negatively affected by ineffective communication.
On the other hand, when managers carry out regular check-in meetings—both with individuals and their team as a whole—it builds coherency and confidence. This kind of communication:
- Makes people feel heard, cared about and supported, and a truly valued part of the business
- Builds loyalty and enthusiasm with improved team cohesion that drives effective collaboration
- Provides an outlet for any performance, workflow, or communication issues so that managers can solve these before they stifle productivity or cause wider problems
- Fuels engagement and retention, supporting a healthy company culture that can boost your eNPS results
So, how can managers and teams improve their communication for the benefit of the company as a whole?
Check-ins: What can a manager do to improve their effectiveness?
One-on-one meetings are the front line of manager-professional communication. It’s the ideal place to build a strong and stable relationship built on clear, honest, and open conversation.
Here are some best practices for more effective one-on-ones:
- Keep them regular. When workloads get full, it can be tempting to reduce face-to-face time. Keeping to a predictable, regular schedule is key to improving communication and making people feel valued.
- Be as transparent as you can. Generally, people know when they’re being told the truth, and being open with direct reports greatly increases trust. As a result, they’re likely to be more honest in return.
- Build a relationship. The best managers are easy to approach and engage with and understand that a strong relationship takes time and effort to build through empathy and respect.
- Make your meetings two-way. Effective one-on-ones work both ways, with feedback and information shared equally. Following this approach will empower people to share their best ideas, bring up important issues, and deliver more value for the company.
- Consider a consistent structure. Whether the meeting is a specific status update, a “temperature check,” or a discussion of recent challenges, start with an open question. It’s also helpful to create a flexible structure that leaves space for any key points the team member may wish to discuss.
At the same time, weekly team meetings are an important tool for building team morale and cohesion and for making sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to key projects, updates, and priorities. Following similar principles for these types of meetings is equally important for developing effective teams.
Traditionally, companies conduct performance reviews on an annual basis. For many, those often-fleeting meetings become a target of resentment.
Forward-thinking HR teams are instead focusing on more regular performance reviews, with at least two official sessions a year. These new-style performance reviews prioritize the development of the professional and focus on a more continuous dialogue, rather than a one-off score-based exercise.
Research by Robert Walters found that 91 percent of Millennials consider career development a top priority in their jobs, and that 60 percent of them want formal feedback every one to three months. Clearly, the traditional approaches to performance reviews aren’t cutting it anymore.
Including professional development and progression as part of regular manager check-ins, as well as more frequent formalized performance reviews, is key to increasing manager (and employee) empowerment and giving people a clearer picture of their future with your company.
With so many team members now working remotely or hybrid, digital tools are crucial for maintaining clear lines of communication.
While distance can impact team collaboration, different people also process information better in different ways. This makes it even more important for managers to embrace the full spectrum of communication approaches when engaging their dispersed teams.
- Team-wide meetings
- One-on-ones, both in-person and over video conferencing
- Instant chat messaging
- Short video recordings
- Document sharing tools
- Phone calls
You can use all of these forms of contact to build stronger connections and relationships within teams, although it’s also important to be wary of fragmenting your communication tools to the extent that key messages get buried or lost.
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Especially for larger teams and organizations, HR tech has been carefully designed to support and measure your company’s communications practices.
Through regular surveys and scheduled check-ins, you can gauge what’s working and what isn’t by getting direct responses from team members about what to improve and how.
Similarly, a good HRIS will provide a centralized home for important documents and announcements, and help facilitate regular one-on-one schedules so you can improve manager effectiveness across your organization.
Keep talking, keep succeeding
Effective and regular manager communication builds trust, engagement, satisfaction and motivation, and improves your company’s retention efforts. This means you’ll have lower recruitment costs and a stronger bottom line.
When everyone in the team feels included, valued, and listened to, they’re much more likely to be engaged at work. With higher engagement comes better outputs, as well as a healthier company culture, and a more stable, secure, and effective workforce.