3 Communication Areas Where New Managers Miss the Mark


As a new manager you are suddenly in charge of a team and responsible for the team successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses. No longer can you operate as an individual contributor. You need to become an effective leader with all that that new role implies. Your employees will look to you for clarity, inspiration, support and guidance. And you will provide the sole measure of their performance. You need to hit the ground running and avoid some of the mistakes that even the most seasoned managers make.

Based upon running over 5,000 employee engagement surveys each year, we know that a manager’s ability to have open and honest communication with their employees has a direct correlation to higher levels of employee advocacy, discretionary effort and intent to stay.  Here are three areas in which managers miss the mark; these mistakes all have to do with a lack of effective communication. Don’t let your employees have lingering questions about:

  1. What you expect them to do.
    This, according to new manager training, is your first and foremost responsibility as a new manager. You need to convey crystal clear direction regarding performance expectations. In order for employees to deliver, they need to know where they are headed, what they need to accomplish and why. Think carefully about what you want to convey and the most effective mode of communication…one-on-one, email, or team meeting. And then leave plenty of time for them to clarify, ask questions and truly understand. Clarify that they understand by asking a few questions of your own. And then continue to check in and invite their further questions as they begin the task. Keep in mind that the time you spend upfront will save time and endless problems further down the line.You will know you are on the right track when your employees can articulate how:
  • The success of their team is measured.
  • Their individual success is measured.
  • Their job directly helps the organization to succeed.
  • They personally fit into the company’s future plans.
  1. How you expect them to behave.
    What are the behavioral standards you have set? Each individual on your team should be clear about how things need to get done in the organization and how their behaviors will be evaluated. Your staff should not be left to guess what conduct or attitude you want to encourage. Be clear when you talk to the team and give frequent individual feedback so they always know where they stand and how they can improve.

You will know you are on the right track when your employees know:

  • The values and behaviors they are expected to adhere to.
  • How they are doing compared to performance and cultural standards.
  • How to play to their strengths and improve or avoid their weaknesses.
  1. Whether their efforts are appreciated.
    Just remember what it is like to be noticed and thanked for a job well done. We all want to be appreciated for our contributions and, especially so, when we have put in extra discretionary effort. Don’t leave your employees wondering if anyone cares about their contribution. Recognize high performance in a way they value…a pat on the back, a thank you in front of the team, a public salute at a company-wide meeting. Or, of course, monetary rewards or special privileges may also be appreciated.

You will know you are on the right track when your employees believe that you:

  • Are committed to making it a great place to work.
  • Value people as your most important resource.
  • Make investments to help them be more successful.
  • Meaningfully recognize people who contribute to the company’s success.

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