An insufficient flow of communication between a manager and his individual team members will inhibit the overall team’s performance. We regularly encounter managers who are frustrated with their team members for rather communicating with other individuals and failing to make use of communication channels that they believe are in place and effective. When managers turn to us for assistance to address this behaviour, the first question we believe needs to be asked is why your team members could possibly be choosing not to communicate with you?
This is a difficult question for most managers to face and answer honestly, because the knee jerk response is that the fault lies elsewhere, with someone else and not with them. In the event that you also find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to give some consideration to the following scenarios and to not only consider them from your perspective, but to also try and stand in your team member’s shoes.
My manager is too busy.
I am a strong believer of an open door policy. If any employee, no matter how junior, wants to communicate with me, I see no reason why they should not be allowed to. Many managers believe that the mere fact that their office door is standing physically open, constitutes an open door policy. However if you come across as always being in a hurry or always busy, your team members may decide to rather not bother you.
My manager doesn’t listen.
Unfortunately we are not always able to implement every single idea that comes to our tables, but by not providing feedback on ideas, your team members may start feeling that bringing ideas to you is a futile exercise.
I do not trust my manager.
Should your team members, based on your past behaviour, trust you to protect them or give them the benefit of the doubt? Do you respect confidentiality? Will you make fun of their ideas in public?
I feel uncomfortable.
No person feels equally comfortable with every other individual. Even in the workplace, certain individuals will feel more comfortable discussing certain topics with one person, rather than another. Sometimes it is more important that an employee has someone that they feel comfortable talking to, rather than that person specifically being their manager. Similarly all team members may not be equally comfortable communicating in one specific language or by one specific communication medium only. Make sure that employees have a variety of options that they can make use of to communicate with you.
There is confusion.
I did not know that I was supposed to share or not share this communication with X. What are the correct communication channels to follow? We often find this with newer employees who are still trying to find their feet. This can be prevented by clear communication instructions and an effective induction process.
I do not want to suffer the consequences.
Are you one of those managers that shoot the messenger? Do you lash out whenever someone is unfortunate enough to be the bearer of your bad news? This type of behaviour will discourage team members from communicating transparently and pro-actively with you in future.
In the end, the most important thing is that you do not ask “what is wrong with my team that they are not communicating with me?”, but rather “how can I be the kind of manager that my team members will willingly communicate with freely?”.
Click the link below to view the complete A2C Newsflash Volume 2 Issue 33 – First Understand