Five Critical Skills A Manager Must Master To Effectively Communicate

You can go to any book store and find a plethora of books on the “latest and greatest” perspective on to effectively communicate with individuals, teams, and entire organizations. When you sort through all of them you will find five common benchmarks to have a successful conversation.

Know Your Message: How many times have you had a conversation with a manager and later walked away more confused than you were before the meeting? In many cases, the manager knows the problem, but does not develop a game plan to make sure her or she covers the important items. How often do you jump into a crucial conversation without first making a plan presenting you how and where the conversation will go? It is important when you need to share important information that you first make a game plan. Write down what you need to cover. Make a check off sheet if necessary, but ensure all important items are included. This is especially important if the other person in the discussion is good at distraction and redirection when bad news is coming. A game plan helps you focus and ensure at the end of the conversation everything that must be said has been said.

The Right Time: How often do managers interrupt someone in the middle of an important project, or task, to throw a lot of information at the person on another unrelated subject The target person is now distracted, loses track, and nothing gets completed. Many managers say, “Well, it was important, and I needed to tell them the information right then.” Unless it was a life or death situation then it could wait. Many managers say it was incredibly important just so they can check off their in-box saying the relayed the information. Well, that’s not a conversation, it’s a cop out. If it is an important conversation then it should be given the proper weight. Waite and have the conversation at the right time, right place and one-on-one. Both you and the person deserve to have an undistracted conversation. Go to an office and lock the door if necessary to ensure privacy. DO NOT HAVE CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS IN FRONT OF OTHER COWORKERS.

Know How to Talk: Communication is a two way street. Many managers believe effective communication is telling the other person what they are doing wrong. Then they are shocked when the other person says, “Well, let me tell you about your miserable performance as a manger.” Sometimes the manager believes yelling is a better way to get his or her point across. If you believe this is the correct style of management I have three words for you: Hostile Work Environment. Your lawyer will clue you in after the paperwork is served, by your humble public servant, requesting your appearance in court, along with your checkbook. A crucial conversation should be as calm as possible. Make your point in a professional manner and move on to the next one. Being a bully does not win you points, it only makes you look weak and cowardly.

Ensure Understanding: This is where many managers mess up. They do not know how to ensure the other person actually heard the message. Many people feel acquired saying, “Now, what did I say?” The military has brief backs before missions to ensure everyone understands the message before the mission. They do this because somewhere after the first minute people begin to tune out. The pay more attention if they know they are going to be asked to repeat what was said. It is critical that you ask people to summarize, or tell you specifically, the conversation that you had. This way it ensures that the other person did not misinterpret what you said. For example, they will not believe they are getting a pay raise when you are docking their pay. Don’t laugh; it has happened to people before. Entire comedy shows are developed around the concept of one person misinterpreting what another person said. By asking the person to repeat what you said you ensure proper understanding. It is the most critical, and underutilized, skill a manager must master to have effective conversations.

Follow Up: Now that you have had the conversation and ensured proper understanding, it is time to schedule a follow up. Set the date 30, 60, and 90 days out. After 30 days you should see the biggest changes in regards to your conversation. After 60 days, most of the problems should have gone away and changes sticking. After 90 days changes in behavior should now be engrained. Along the way, continue to have shorter conversations tweaking what you discussed in your original crucial conversation.

If you are to be an effective manager you must master the five skills outlined in this blog. The choice is yours and rewards for becoming a master communicator are also yours.

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Sage advice from a true American success story.

American Dream

by

Mike Phibbs

 

“In America, you can have anything you want if you are intelligent and have courage.”  ~ Reza

 

I want to be a millionaire and so do many of you. Three sage questions arise when we admit that we want to be millionaires. First, how do we get the money? Second, what will we have to give up getting the money? Third, will money truly make us successful and happy?

I met Reza many years ago while visiting Miami with my wife. We met through a chance encounter and have been friends ever since. He is the model of the self-made American success story. As a group, driving through Miami, Reza’s phone wrong, it was a business deal in the final stages of negotiations. Reza told the guy on the other end of the line that 20 was the final offer. He continued by telling the other party if he kept trying to push the number lower then Reza was going to start climbing again. I thought they were talking about thousands of dollars. I was wrong, very wrong. I was shocked when Reza told the caller that he was going to ask my opinion. Not knowing the game I aloud, “make it 25 or nothing.” I could hear the guy on the other end choke a little and then agree to the 20. When I learned it was millions and not thousands of dollars I instantly knew I was not in Kansas anymore.

The story of the deal was interesting, but the man behind the deal is far more interesting than can be posted in a blog. We have all met those people, larger than life and with the personality to bring any room to life. Reza came to America in 1979, a week before the Iranian hostage situation began. Reza was born in Iran and left to come to American and make a better life. He brought just enough money to get to New York and buy a bus ticket to somewhere else. He could only say “Florida” in English, so he bought a ticket to Florida. Before he left the station the American Embassy fell. People were outraged and someone had to pay for the American humiliation. It was Reza. He was constantly being assaulted by people on his trip to Miami. Only one person helped him out, the bus driver. The driver tried to protect him and ensure he got to his destination alive.  Even the police turned a blind eye to the assaults. People seem to find this behavior acceptable when their country has been humiliated, the President is ineffective, and the citizens are scared. We are shocked when we see such behavior in other countries and ignore it in our own.

Reza has a charming personality, but he has something else:  A drive to succeed. He worked odd jobs and ended up working at a gas station. Unknowingly, fortune was about to show its face. One day a friend who owned a limousine business mentioned to Reza that he had too many jobs that night and not enough chauffer’s. Reza took the chance and asked if he could take one of the shifts. History is made during these types of serendipitous encounters and this was the case. Thus the rise of Reza began. He continued to work the gas station during the day and drove at night. He eventually bought his own limousine company and made customer loyalty and service the hallmarks of the company’s success.  He could have sat back running a lucrative business and been regarded as successful. But no, he continued to branch out into different areas and continued to make the South Florida financial empire he has today.

One night, while eating dinner at a restaurant overlooking the water with the Miami skyline in the background, Reza put his fork down and pointed out into the bay. He looked back and said, “Look at the billions of dollars out there. Why don’t you have any of it?” I replied that I didn’t have anyone rich enough to knock off. He then spoke the sage words that I use in seminars today, “In America anyone can be as successful as they want if they are intelligent and have courage.” He is completely right. Many people don’t have the intellectual acumen to develop a product idea which people will want to spend money on. More likely, in America has lost the will or courage that brought our forefathers here in boats that would be illegal by today’s Coast Guard standards. We have lost the desire to do what it takes to make a better life. Most Americans are not willing to risk what they have to fulfill the possibilities that America presents.

Does this mean you have to be a millionaire to be successful? If you want to be on the Discovery, TLC or Bravo Channels then yes, yes you do. But in the world of reality, success is something that is enjoyable, fulfilling and builds self-worth. For Reza the money is a by-product of enjoying the running of successful companies. He enjoys providing services and money is just a score card to gauge his own success. The companies he owns are centered on making both his clients and employees equally happy. He knows when you are happy at what you do then it is not a job or a profession, it is something deeper with more meaning.

If you are miserable at your job and have a desire to do something else then ask yourself three questions:

  • Am I an intelligent person who can research my own idea?
  • Do I have the courage to take the actions necessary to fulfill my life’s calling?
  • How happy will I be when I am in charge of my own destiny?

Only you can answer these questions. The answers are scary for most people. But when in doubt remember Reza. He came to a strange land with nothing, not even knowing the language. He became a proud American citizen and through intelligence and courage he became an American success. Put down the fork and look out the window. What is stopping you from living the American dream? Reza lives it and so can you.