Leadership effectively communicating with employees is not a simple feat. Things get lost in translation as they move down the ladder and what you meant to say may not be delivered in that way. Here are some common communication mistakes that leaders make that risk employee engagement and retention, and the simple solutions to these problems.
- One Size Fits All
Sending out one type of communication to all employees is not the best idea, especially if it's a big company with various national and international locations. Cultures can change from just one town to the next, so an identical message to everyone will come across differently depending on who’s reading it. There are also differences in generational attitudes. Sending an announcement full of emojis and memes may work for millennials and Gen Z’ers but older generations could still find this unprofessional and alienating. Instead, try tailoring your messaging to every region, department, or age group. It may mean more work, but in the long run you will have engaged employees, improved communication and retention.
- Avoiding confrontation
Avoiding difficult conversations does not benefit the person delivering it nor the person receiving it. Emotions can build up in the sender and once they finally decide to bring it up, those feelings will get the better of them. Valid points will not come across as such if they’re being delivered while upset. Plus, the person receiving it will feel attacked and by that time the problem will be worse than before since no one told them how to improve or that there was even an issue to begin with. Dodging complicated conversations will only make it harder for employees to better themselves. Consistent and short conversations are preferable so that any problems get resolved in a timely and concise manner.
- Sandwich praising
By now most of us have heard of the sandwich method of delivering feedback. First, you say something positive; you’re doing great lately. Then you deliver negative feedback, the actual point you want to make; but surveys from your customers are poor. Finally, you sandwich it together with another positive point; but your co-workers have nothing but great things to say about you! First of all, adults don’t need to be coddled like a child so that they don’t get their feelings hurt. Second, why inflate a balloon just to puncture it a minute later? If you need to give criticism, give it constructively. Tell them what the problem is and offer solutions instead of empty compliments meant to spare feelings. Employees want to do their best work, so help them.
Issues with top-down communication are not uncommon. Leadership wants to effectively deliver messages down the ladder, and employees want to hear from the top. Always remember to know your audience, confront difficult conversations head-on, and offer constructive criticism!