6 most important communication skills for managers in 2022
Effective communication is arguably the most important soft skill for managers — and most roles. Communication skills guide how you speak to clients, communicate with team members, lead meetings, give instructions, provide feedback, and more. Without this essential skill, a lot of miscommunications and frustrations can pop up in the workplace.
Poor communication can directly result in higher turnover, a major concern for employers as the Great Resignation continues into 2022. A recent Quantum Workplace survey found that poor communication was one of the top contributors to turnover. They also found that only 35% of exiting employees reported that they had experienced transparent communication throughout all levels of their organization.
1. Strong digital communication skills
Digital communication will continue to be a key component of internal communications even after the pandemic is over. With the shift towards remote work, there have been significant changes in how managers and employees communicate.
When communicating over email or on messaging platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, things like body language, tone, and facial expressions are absent. Without these nonverbal cues, there is greater room for misunderstandings or unclear communication. Managers need to send clear messages and consider how their tone will come across in writing. Over messaging platforms, you may even decide to incorporate emojis, GIFs, or other methods of clarifying tone if these less formal cues are in line with your company’s culture.
A manager needs to be more intentional when it comes to building strong working relationships and team culture in the remote age. Good communication builds culture and comradery. If management is only communicating with employees as needed to complete tasks, they likely won’t develop strong relationships or culture. Managers should consider how they can encourage employees to build rapport and be more collaborative. An informal team Slack channel or group chat can help. Managers can also make an effort to encourage people to share how their weekends went during virtual staff meetings. Relationship building in a remote workforce requires strong interpersonal communication skills.
2. Culturally competent communication
In today’s world, it’s important for managers to be able to effectively communicate with team members and clients from different cultures, regions, and backgrounds. The economy has become largely globalized and with the rise in remote work, managers need to be able to adjust their communication style to converse with many different people.
Culturally competent communicators respect and embrace diversity while taking cultural differences into consideration when approaching interpersonal communications. The five key components of cultural competency are open attitude, self-awareness, awareness of others, cultural knowledge, and cultural skills. While managers may not have an understanding of the practices, norms, and intricacies of every culture, they should be open to learning and be respectful of cultural differences.
3. Nonverbal communication skills
A large portion of communication is nonverbal. It is important for managers to know how to read nonverbal cues, and also to be aware of how they deliver nonverbal cues in order to improve their interpersonal communication skills.
Body language and facial expressions can communicate what a person is feeling. Managers should be sure to use open body language when interacting with employees face-to-face. Avoid crossing your arms during employee interactions. This can be a natural stance for many people, but it can communicate that you are defensive, closed off, hostile (particularly if fists are clenched as well), offended, or otherwise uneasy with the conversation. Watch out for employees crossing their arms mid-conversation as it may be a sign that they are becoming irritated or unhappy at where the conversation is going. Make sure that your body language is consistent with your tone.
Making and maintaining eye contact is another important form of nonverbal communication. Eye contact demonstrates focus and shows that you are truly engaged and listening.
4. Active listening
Often when people think about communication skills, they focus too heavily on what to say and fail to acknowledge that listening to others is just as important. A manager needs to be able to engage in active listening.
Active listening requires the manager to listen intently and demonstrate that they are focused on what the other person is saying. Often employees feel that they are not heard in the workplace, so managers should make an extra effort to utilize active listening with their subordinates. Some ways to show that you are listening include nodding, smiling, using reflective statements to summarize or clarify what the other party has said, or using other appropriate facial expressions or gestures.
When a team member is speaking, a manager should let the employee speak and avoid interrupting them or redirecting the conversation. Allowing them to finish sharing their thoughts, stories, or ideas before adding your own can help make employees feel listened to. Adding in your own experiences or interests can be great for building trust and rapport with employees, but managers interjecting or monopolizing the conversation can be frustrating for employees. This is important to be considerate of, as business leaders are often used to doing most of the talking during team meetings and may not realize that they are failing to spend time listening and allowing others to speak.
Developing effective listening skills can help managers build a respectful and collaborative company culture.
5. Emotional intelligence
Managers are frequently under a large amount of stress. Stress levels have been exacerbated over the past two years due to frequent changes in business practices with the pandemic, shortages of labor, supply chain issues, and changes across many industries. That’s why emotional intelligence is an important skill for managers to possess.
Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to recognize and control their emotions as well as perceive and understand others’ emotions.
Managers need to be aware of and regulate their emotions in order to promote calm and respectful communication during stressful periods and ensure that they are not taking work stress or personal emotions out on staff members.
Motivation will allow managers to stay motivated and on track in their duties while also motivating their teams. Being able to connect with and communicate the company’s mission and remind employees why they are doing what they’re doing.
Empathy allows managers to put themselves in their employees’ shoes and understand different perspectives. This is important when working with employees, addressing problems, and responding to employee concerns.
6. Ability to give feedback effectively
Providing constructive feedback to your employees helps them grow and improve. It also ensures that the work that they’re producing is high quality and meets customer expectations.
Providing effective feedback can boost employee engagement too. Per Quantum’s 2021 Employee Turnover and Retention Trends report, employees are twice as likely to be highly engaged when they feel that their manager regularly gives them feedback to improve their performance.
Managers should aim to provide feedback that is specific and actionable. A good manager will know how to strike the right balance between providing positive feedback and highlighting areas of improvement so that employees do not feel discouraged. Positive feedback also provides valuable information to employees on what you like about their work so that they feel adequately recognized.
Many managers give feedback too infrequently or wait until the annual review periods. In 2022, managers should practice providing feedback frequently and informally throughout the year. They should also use their active listening skills and be open to receiving feedback and listening to it intently. Employees can be a great source of feedback as well. Managers can also draw on their emotional intelligence to ensure that the feedback they are giving is fair and even-tempered and being delivered in the appropriate manner.
Continue building effective communication skills
A good manager will always be working to expand their skill set as well as improve upon their existing skills. If you’ve read this list and feel like you possess all 6 of these skills, look for opportunities to improve upon them. Workplace communication has experienced a notable shift in response to the pandemic and the social movements that occurred in 2020 and 2021. So even highly skilled and experienced managers may want to brush up on their communication skills and techniques as we go into the new year.