While promoting individual contributors to a supervisory role, it is important to ensure that they a have good persuasive skills, a high sense of responsibility, an unfailing value system and could motivate and manage people. A manager can accomplish business goals by planning, monitoring and continuously communicating with the team and stakeholders. Among all these skills and processes, communication skills are of great important as they have an overarching effect on all other skills. Communication skills can assist a manager to motivate team members by giving in their best every day.
It is necessary that communication training for new supervisors includes modules on all fives aspects of communication – speaking, listening, writing, reading and even nonverbal communication. Writing and speaking are “sender related” while listening and reading are “receiver related” skills and both are equally important in the role of a manager.
Since manager supervise others – influencing the performance of their team members on a day to day basis, interpersonal communication is of utmost importance. They interact with others through a multitude of mediums including presentations, speeches, facilitation of workshops, one to one reviews, virtual calls and video sessions, and written communication such as emails.
Communication training for new supervisors and managers should address the following tenets:
- Diversity of communication preferences and Inclusion – Because workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse, the supervisor must be able to take everyone along. They need to personalize their communication based on the cultural, thinking and behavioral diversity of their team members. They need to be sensitive to the needs of others and deploy tactfulness in getting a buy in for various decisions.
- Power, Authority & Organization Structure – Because communication is influenced by authority, and organizations have complex working culture, managers must be able to play between centralized & decentralized decision-making structures, top down & bottom up methods of information flow and even small & large groups.
- Essence of Time – Because managers are usually pressed for time, they need to vacillate between the need for slowing down to build consensus and speeding up to take quick action. Each of these situations requires a different communication style and a lot of flexibility. By training to address varying communication needs, managers can respond with appropriate communication style in different situations.
- Reputational Sensitivity – As managers represent the management, their communication style contributes to the reputation and culture of the organization. Communication skills training for new supervisor and managers must build sensitivity to this aspect. It needs to enable the managers to assess the impact of their communication to the reputation, legal compliance and cultural aspects and make appropriate changes to the same. Supervisors have an immense opportunity to build goodwill among the stakeholders – including senior management, employees, vendors and partners through effective communication.
- Business Ecosystem – Communication skills training for new supervisors and first-time managers must also sensitize the trainees on the complexities of communication between supervisors-employees, vendors-buyers, senior management – managers and government – business representatives. For example, by understanding how formal and structured communication is necessary when communicating with legal authorities, managers can learn to influence them better. A poorly managed communication with statutory authorities could be ridden with business risk and could engender ill-will.
Managers, in the context of communication, need to
- inform people of facts, methods, rules, processes, instructions and requirements
- Persuade people to get their buy in, frames experiences and create or change to the desired perceptions
- Motivate people to act as desired by them.
All three objectives of business communication require proper training in communication skills especially for supervisors and business managers.
Information typically flows vertically in a top to bottom or bottom to top direction. While goals or instructions may flow from top to bottom, information, measurements and reports typically move bottom to top. Similarly, horizontal communication is more about keeping others informed, getting a buy-in and seeking advice.
For communication to be effective, one must ascertain the goals and objectives of the either side. Planned communication flows through network. Networks of communication need to be established based on the business need. For example, a specific communication network for maintaining accounts of an organization may have bottom up flow of bills and expenses and the information for it on structured templates. It may then move to a centralized system of consolidation of such information and then through a bottom up or sideways flow to the statutory authorities as a filing of tax. Communication training for new supervisors and first-time managers must include methods and live case studies on how to determine the right network.
This involves asking:
- Who all should be invited to the network?
- What is the direction of communication for every touch point – horizonal or vertical?
- Are there different levels of network – for example primary and secondary touch points, compulsory or optional participants etc.
- How does one regulate the flow of information?
- What are the characteristics and type of communication between each node – for example is it formal or informal, written or spoken, In-Person or real etc.
- Is the communication centralized or decentralized – this refers to the way power is distributed and how decisions are taken – it provides clarity between the chosen method of decision making – between authority or parity!
Lately, social media has become one of the effective facilitators of communication. It is fast replacing emails and phone calls. Being instant and crisp, it makes communication spontaneous and relevant. However, the flipside of the social media driven communication is that it is often unstructured, mostly informal and there is an inherent risk to confidentiality. Communication training for supervisors and managers must sensitise them to the risks associated with communication via the social media and at the same time enable them to engage with their teams and other stakeholders better through the social media.
To sum, Communication Training for New Supervisors and Managers, must consider the network of communication existing within the organization and then plan the various aspects of communications that must be included in the training.