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Future Managers: Improve Your Workplace Communication

With the emergence of remote work, it is now common for managers to operate virtually with teams dispersed globally. In this new normal, organisations are reshaping how they communicate. This directly impacts how future managers must view and understand communication in the modern workplace. Indeed, oral, and written communication proficiencies are consistently ranked in the top desirable skills by employers across the globe.

Communication, in all forms, is essential to effective communication for future managers - be it conveying messages to your team, reporting back to your manager, or engaging with project team members and other stakeholders, like your customers and suppliers. Future managers know that effective communication is about embracing cultural diversity, understanding different channels of communication, and the role of one’s posture and tone, both vocal and written, when communicating with their audience.

Given the global pandemic, and the subsequent impacts of COVID-19, there's been exponential growth in the use of non-traditional channels. Face-to-face meetings are being substituted for their virtual counterparts. With these new demands, future managers need to improve communication and the flow of information in their respective workplaces. In addition to this, it is critical for them to understand the policies and procedures that govern communication and the sharing of information in their organisations – especially within the legislation that has been introduced to regulate communication practices [Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (ECTA)].

Below are 5 tips for you as a future manager to improve your communication in the workplace:

1. Be Ethical:

As a future manager, you need to consciously adopt the highest standards of professional behaviour by communicating with sensitivity to cultural values and beliefs. You need to follow the law, act and communicate without deception, and enable mutual understanding and respect. Along your career journey, you'll request information from others, discuss operational problems, lead and give instructions, work in project teams, and interact with colleagues, customers, and external third parties. You, therefore, need to represent your organisation truthfully, fairly, accurately, and communicate concise and consistent messages and put yourself in the other person's shoes.

2. Know Your Audience:

This is the single most important aspect of effective communication. Knowing the audience that you are communicating with includes understanding their interests, position, function, influence, education level, language, culture, and so forth. Audience analysis helps you to identify the audience, including your manager, colleagues, project team, customers, regulators, and suppliers, and adapt your communication to their interests, level of understanding, attitudes, and beliefs. Your communication becomes far more effective when you tailor your message to fit your audience’s profile and align your communication to their preferred communication channels. This demonstrates to your audience that you're considerate, courteous, and respectful.

3. Be Clear:

It is important to be clear about the purpose of the message you’re delivering. Clarity is a vital part of communicating effectively and engaging with your audience. Keep your message simple, stick to the point, focus on the core points of your message, avoid slang, jargon, and unfamiliar acronyms. Clear content, regardless of the channel of communication – written emails and reports or delivered speech during meetings – removes space for confusion. Your points should be based on irrefutable data, solid facts, and opinions from credible sources. Don't leave scope for assumptions, misrepresentation, vagueness, fake news, and gossip. Give the audience the information they need to follow your line of reasoning and reach the same conclusions you have.

4. Listen Attentively: 

Effective communication fosters trust with others. Your ability to listen attentively and embrace different points of view helps others trust that you're making optimal decisions for your audience. Listening carefully, being empathetic, and offering quality feedback helps people to feel heard and understood. The key is to remain calm, increase engagement, resolve any conflict, and find constructive solutions – whether dealing with customer complaints or complaints from colleagues in the office.

5. Provide and Receive Feedback:

Effective communication is a two-way process that requires feedback to complete the loop. Feedback should be spontaneous and regular. It needs to become part of day-to-day encounters to encourage a conducive environment in which people generally feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback. As a future manager, you have to both receive and provide feedback effectively. Positive feedback is easy to give out. Negative feedback is a difficult task. As a future manager, it is important to nurture your communication skills to be able to give and receive feedback gracefully, whether it be positive, negative, or constructive.

While implementing these tips, remember that building and encouraging good communication habits can be one of the most crucial things you do as a future leader. Effective communication is a vital life skill and needs to integrate into your career, especially as you manoeuvre within the different industries. Employers want staff who can think for themselves, use initiative and communicate their thoughts on how operational processes, products or services can be improved. Being able to communicate effectively and deliver clear messages, while understanding other people's communication needs, means work can be completed more effectively for all involved.

Author: Lebo Lethoba

Lebo Lethoba is a USB Executive Development faculty member and facilitates the communications module in the Future Managers Development Programme (FMDP).

USB Executive Development’s brand-new Future Managers Development Programme (FMDP) helps graduates and graduate interns/trainees master the first step in their overall development, management of self, and become well-rounded young leaders within an organisation. ​It is the responsibility of the organisation and its leaders to help them understand who they are within the broader business environment, enhance their communication and leadership abilities to ensure employee engagement, unlock their potential, and help them proactively plan and manage a long, fulfilling, and sustainable career path.

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