Writen by Reg Adkins

You have seen it any number of times on your journey through the career path of life. You have a business, which appears to be thriving. The location is perfect. The marketed item or service is in high demand. The salaries are at the high end of the spectrum. The benefit package is generous. Yet somehow, the employee retention rate is horrible and the moral of the staff is pathetic.

So, what is the kicker? Usually, it is a boss with poor communication skills. Here is a list of the most common problems, how they can negatively impact (yes, I know rules of grammar dictate I should say influence rather than impact, but I think impact drives the point home better) your bottom line, and what you can do about it.

1. Use email to communicate problems.

A person who loathes confrontation or is just mean spirited utilizes this technique. If it is the former, you are better off. This manager is so concerned with your feelings, and how you will react, that he will send ten emails to avoid a one-minute face-to-face meeting that may be uncomfortable. Typically, this manager is someone who has come up the ranks through a process of the attrition of others. Truth be told, he probably does not want the responsibility of leadership at all.

The second user of email for bad news is more along the lines of the anonymous postal bomber. He will intentionally save your bad news email until just before close of business on Friday, in an effort to sour your weekend. NEVER open anything from this guy on a three-day weekend. Destroying something like that would be coup-de-gras for this turkey.

Whatever, the motivation it is a rotten thing to do. If you want to be, or continue to be an effective manager who communicates well, don't do it. If you have managers in your employ, don't allow them to do it.

Write out the bad news you want to communicate. Eliminate as much negative as you can, add a positive spin, and do it face to face.

What is the monetary payback? The answer is two-fold: 1) your employee retention rate will increase. 2) You recruitment efforts will meet with quicker success.

2. Berate the group for the sins of the one.

How many meetings have you been in where a less than effective manager spent over an hour preaching about the importance of professionalism when it comes to dress code? All the while you know the whole meeting is about Edna, in receiving and her circa 1970 orange and green tube top.

If I have an issue with one of my staff it is my responsibility to take it up with him individually. It may not be fun, but it is why I get the "big bucks."

Where is the payback? You guessed it. Retention and recruitment expenditures will continue to decrease.

3. Roll problems downhill.

I believe this to be one of the cardinal sins of leadership. I have been in enumerable situations when, either due to market changes or poor management, productivity and efficiency falter. At the point, the ineffective communicator brings the staff together and berates them for the short falling.

Having spent several years in the military in one form or another there are many things I would like to forget. However, there is one adage that I hope to always remember, and it is:

You can delegate authority.
You can not delegate responsibility.

It does not matter if you gave Maggie the Anderson account to rework. If it sucks, at the end of the day it is still your fault.

When down-trends inevitably occur, eat your share of the elephant.

The pay back here will also be reflected in another aspect. Absenteeism will drop significantly. As a result, productivity will increase.

4. Correct a subordinate in public.

This piece of common sense may be the most uncommon of all.

The manager who commits this atrocity is somewhat similar to the "email bomber." He is either a jerk, in which case he is much too volatile to entrust your financial and professional well being. Or he is a hot head and is unsuitable for leadership for the same reason.

If you have a "brain fart" and make this mistake, man up and apologize in just as public a forum as when the offence was committed.

"Where's the financial beef?" This may be the most expensive communications breakdown of all. Can you say, "Hostile work environment?" Can you say, "Harassment?" Trust me on this one folks, the good ole' U.S. of A. is not called the "litigation nation" without cause.

5. Fail to acknowledge a persons effort.

The ineffective communicator takes the effort of others for granted. He figures he puts in 70 hours per week so, why shouldn't everybody else?

When "Big Ed" misses his kids' Tball game to finish up the plans for project management, make a big deal!

I hate to quote Carnegie, but right is right. "Be hearty in your approbation, and lavish in your praise."

Why? Happy and appreciated workers are productive workers. Appreciated clients and customers come back.

So, can I wrap this up in a little bow draped package for you? I think so.

Statistically speaking, one of the greatest expenses in conducting operations is the recruitment and training of new personnel. One of the biggest challenges is attracting and retaining clientele. One of the most effective, least expensive ways to accomplish this is through good communication techniques.

Here is a little epiphany. Put these strategies on a little checklist and review it to see how well you met the objectives at the beginning and end of each day.

So, implement a little communications training and put the money saved toward your vacation in Fiji. Or, just send it to me.


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