1. Schedule Communication
Communication happens in the break room, at the copy machine, or even in the bathroom. Formal, work-related communication should not happen in these settings. If you have a critical project or work-related topic to discuss with your staff, schedule a meeting.
2. Write It Out First
So many times, you think you said it, but you actually just thought it – or maybe you meant to say it. Or, worse yet, you DID say it, but it was lost in a long conversation and its importance was lost on your staff. For every meeting, write an agenda that includes the meeting’s purpose. Include the topic, who is discussing it, and what the outcome is. This documentation will keep you all on task.
3. Blaze A Trail
Verbal communication can be easy to misunderstand, and if your employee is dealing with a difficult home situation, he or she might not be completely tuned into your situation. Even if, in your mind, your conversation should be a priority, imagine if your employee is dealing with a situation where his parents are entering an assisted living facility, a child has a serious medical situation, or a financial pitfall has put him into foreclosure. These are serious situations that can make paying attention – even to your boss – difficult. The best solution to any verbal communication issue is a follow up email which serves as a communication trail. Use this email to paraphrase the conversation and restate deadlines and deliverables, to ensure that both of you are working from the same play book.
4. Require Status Updates
Have your staff report in on status updates on an ongoing basis. There should be no surprises and you should know in an instant where your staff is on any given assignment. Set the standard to receive regular reporting and require it. It will help your staff better balance their workload and increase their accountability.
5. Paraphrase It
After any verbal communication, ask that the person paraphrase their assignment back to you, to make sure they understand fully the task at hand. This will help potential questions or issues surface before you get back to your desk, and can increase both project clarity and performance.
TEDx. (2012, October 18). Story, imagery & the art of 21st century presentation: Garr Reynolds at TEDxKyoto 2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Story-Imagery-the-Art-of-21st-2