In his book, 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, author John Maxwell makes the assertion that “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Among many other attributes, great leaders communicate effectively, in both word and action. Today’s HR professionals are expected to communicate in ways like never before, offering insight into the human elements of a business, while translating the technological advances that shape the modern business world.
While we are the most technologically connected society ever, we are also quite disconnected in the human relation sense, and it seems that the human disconnection will only widen. While technology can and does help us to communicate more effectively, it’s important for today’s leaders to understand what needs to be communicated.
Here are 4 things that a leader MUST be able to communicate to his or her employees:
- Expectations. Most issues arise from unmet expectations. The idea that things should or shouldn’t be a certain way will drive an employee’s perception of any given situation. If things are going “as expected”, then an employee will typically be engaged. However, it’s human nature to fall prey to disappointment and discouragement when things aren’t going as planned. From day one, it’s important to communicate all the facets of expectation. What are the expectations as the new hire goes through the onboarding process? What are the job requirements? What are the expectations for productivity, and a timeline for hitting certain goals?
But then the next level of expectation needs to be communicated: What are the expectations when the proverbial “crap” hits the fan? Finding communication in this space can shape a culture to empower employees to make mistakes and find solutions. Relieving a staff member of the pressure of perfection can open up a whole world of collaborative innovation, unleashing a powerful workforce to propel a company forward.
- Performance Feedback. I’ll never forget one particular yearly performance evaluation I completed on an employee. After we discussed her performance, she sincerely thanked me for giving her feedback on her performance. She had been in the work force for 6 years, and had never been given any feedback on how she was doing. It was an enlightening moment, and shaped the way I viewed the process. While not everyone is appreciative of feedback, especially if they’re not doing their job, most people welcome the opportunity to get a “pat on the back,” along with the opportunity to improve.
I’m of the opinion that yearly performance reviews are a relic, much like paper processes (hint hint). Today’s world receives information from all over the globe in a matter of seconds, and technology offers us a speed that allows us to give real time feedback and coaching, instead of waiting to offer evaluations during the holiday season. HR Tech can now provide quantifiable metrics on employee productivity, retention, engagement, lifetime value, and more. Find a way to communicate to your staff with real-time feedback, and watch their performance adjust and grow!
- Appreciation and Recognition. Right off of the previous point, this is going to be short and sweet. You MUST communicate your appreciation for your employee’s contribution. Find ways to recognize your staff for the things they do. Ralph Waldo Emerson masterfully said, “’Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” Recognize your employees from who they could be in the future, and watch them grow into the person you know they can be.
- Personal Development. This is not a topic always discussed within standard business operations. However, communicating the need and value of personal development for your staff can radically change every aspect of your business. From culture, to productivity, to the bottom line, a workforce that is growing in their personal development is a powerful force!
It is said that leaders are readers. As the leader, encourage your staff members to read. Who a person is will always drive what they do. By communicating the need for a strong “inner person”, you may lift your employees to greatness. Some of the practical things that can be communicated are the importance of employees utilizing their vacation to rest and refocus, taking mental health days to…stay sane, to find a work-life balance that brings them peace and wholeness in their life. In fact, a powerful leader will communicate his or her expectation, and offer encouragement, for employees to grow as leaders and people themselves.
We have a unique opportunity to communicate in ways that can be empowering and up-lifting. More and more, people stare into a computer screen, hours on end every day. The ability to advance in the above areas will increase a company’s productivity, all because a great leader took the time, over and over again, to communicate.