Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! What is the most frustrating issue at your company? For many employees, this key issue is communication. Instead of approaching projects with confidence, they worry that they are in the dark about important information. They may even feel like they don’t have direction on key projects that will affect their performance. Today on the Champion Forum Podcast, we discuss how to approach a boss that is a poor communicator. Though it may not be easy to start that conversation, addressing this issue with your leader will help you, your team, and your boss to be more efficient and creative.
1. Be honest about the communication barrier
Respectfully tell your manager that they are not communicating well with you. Knowing your leader’s personality style will help you determine how to deliver this information. Don’t just call your manager out. Instead, give sincere feedback and discuss how improving communication will help serve their needs.
Ex. "I often find that I lack feedback and detail when you ask me to prepare presentations for our meetings. I really want the presentation I create to be useful to you, so please, explain how I can do better."
Q: Describe a time when you addressed a leader about an issue that you had. How did you approach it? How did it go? Did anything change after the meeting or confrontation? If you are a leader, has anyone ever addressed you about an issue? What helped you to receive their feedback?
2. Ask Great Questions
Asking great questions is an important part of breaking down communication barriers, especially when you have a boss that is not easy to talk to. One of the benefits is that it shows your leader that you are not assuming anything and keeps them from going on the defensive. Asking questions also allows you to determine if your boss is open to hearing your feedback. Regularly ask your manager what's on their mind and where their priorities are, and don't hesitate to request more details on the work you're assigned.
Ex. “I have some feedback that I believe could really help us become a much stronger team. Is that something you would be interested in hearing more about?”
Q: Why do you think people get defensive when they are approached about their shortcomings? How else can you make a leader feel more comfortable in these conversations? What would you do if your leader said they were not interested in hearing your feedback?
3. Understand your boss’s communication style
Communication is not a one-size-fits-all issue. We have to be willing to be flexible. For example, some leaders are bad at replying to emails, others hate talking on the phone. Figure out what form of communication your manager prefers and utilize it! When you do, make sure that you honor their time and stick to finding out the information you need to know.
Q: What communication style do you prefer? Why do you think you prefer that style? Does it have anything to do with your personality? Why or why not? How does your communication style affect the way you manage your time?
4. Request a recurring meeting
As I stated earlier, productive managers are fighting for minutes every single day. Having a recurring meeting helps get the leader to give you their full attention. Set the tone for the meeting by being prepared and delivering an agenda ahead of time. Make the meeting easy for your boss. If they do not see value in it, they will start canceling the meetings and may even stop attending altogether.
Q: Do you have any recurring meetings? What makes you value those meetings? Do you have any that you do not value? Why or why not?
Take a look at the structure of your regular meetings. Is there a regular agenda? Do you and your team find those meetings valuable? Pick one meeting this week to focus on improving. Talk with your team or team member about the purpose for the meeting and how you can ensure that it is accomplished. Consider adding or removing people from the meeting to make that time more productive for everyone.
Communication is a two-way street. Think about the people you lead. Do any of them struggle with communication? If so, help them think about these three questions:
Do you have time set aside to follow up on important texts, emails, and calls?
How can your team members give feedback to you on your communication? Do you have a weekly meeting or other feedback mechanisms?
How would better communication help your team be more productive and efficient? Ask each team member what you can do to help them in that area.
Formulating great questions is the key to improving any communication problem. Think about a project you have coming up and brainstorm a list of specific questions that will help you better understand what your boss is looking for in the project. When you make this list, try to avoid simple yes or no questions. Using open-ended questions will help you get more information out of your leader.
AUGUST 5, 2021