Moving into a management role can be stressful. Whether you’ve accepted a promotion with your current employer or will be moving into management with a new employer, you likely have a lot of questions about how to succeed in the new role. While you’ll have a lot to learn and many responsibilities to balance during the transition period, few priorities are more important than employee communications. As you step into the management role, your team will be wondering about everything from the type of leader you’ll be to the projects you’ll want them to complete and more. By communicating regularly, strategically, and clearly, you can cultivate buy-in and trust from your employees sooner.
We’ve compiled the following series of communication tips for new managers to help you succeed in your new role.
As a co-op leader, you must develop a solid understanding of the cooperative’s existing communication channels as well as the purpose of each channel. As you settle into your new role, develop a list of the existing communication channels. Examples include email, intranet, instant messaging systems and more. After compiling the list, note examples of how each channel is used as well as the frequency of each channel’s use. Take note as well of employee opinions about the usefulness of each channel.
Auditing the co-op’s existing communication channels is important for a few reasons. First, the audit will develop your proficiency with how to properly use each channel. Second, the communication channels audit will prepare you to answer any questions you may receive from employees about the channels. Last, this process will reveal pain points with the existing channels. Having documentation on hand regarding current communication channel pain points will be essential if you decide to push for changes to the organization’s existing communications practices.
If you’re looking for additional guidance on how to make data-driven decisions regarding employee communications, check out our playbook: How to Use Data to Improve Internal Communications.
One of the most valuable communications tips for new co-op managers to take to heart is the importance of communicating strategically up, over, and down. Many new leaders focus primarily on communicating upward to their superiors. However, effectively communicating with your peers in similar management roles as well as with the employees that you lead is equally, if not more, important.
You’ll likely need to regularly rely on peers who are in similar levels of management within the cooperative. These peers can be your best allies (or worst enemies) in pushing corporate initiatives, projects and other efforts. By maintaining open and positive lines of communication with your peers, you’ll likely achieve success much faster as a new manager.
Being available for your team and keeping them updated on corporate news and changes is also essential. If your employees sense that you’re more concerned in building your image with your superiors instead of fostering their success, they’ll quickly develop a sour taste in their mouth about you. Managers who are willing to listen to the ideas and concerns of their teams and who avoid withholding information are viewed as trust-worthy and valuable leaders. Although ensuring that you regularly communicate with your superiors, peers, and employees requires effort and a strategic outlook, doing so will be worth the effort.
Do you want your team to send you daily recaps of their work progress? Should they communicate with you through email or the co-op’s instant messenger? Will you be completing quarterly performance reviews? Answers to these and other questions must be created and communicated to your employees. While you may want to play the role of a laidback and fun leader, a lack of employee communications expectations can be a recipe for disaster.
Most workers find comfort in knowing what to expect from their managers. Knowing how to communicate with you and understanding how you’ll communicate with them will ease each team member’s uncertainty. Clear communications guidelines can also foster increased team cohesion. Minimize employee frustrations by remaining consistent in how you communicate with each team member. For example, if you schedule a one-on-one meeting with a single team member but not with the others, this can spur suspicions, finger pointing and jealousy throughout the team.
Being a leader doesn’t mean you must always speak the most in meetings with your employees. Rather, much value comes from listening more and speaking less. As you settle into your role and begin meeting with employees, resist the urge to talk more than them. Rather, ask questions and let each team member lead the conversation. Also, avoid the urge to fill moments of silence. Instead, let the silence prompt employees to voice additional thoughts that they otherwise may not have shared. Listening more and speaking less will show your team that you care about their thoughts and concerns. This will, in turn, encourage them to share ideas freely and will strengthen the overall team dynamic.
Of course, there’s a major difference between acting like you’re listening to an employee and actually listening to an employee. Be an active listener by setting aside all distractions and focusing completely on the conversation. Checking your phone or glancing at your computer while an employee is speaking shows that you aren’t engaged in the conversation and chips away at the employee’s trust in your leadership.
Keep detailed notes each time you meet with an employee. Taking notes during team discussions shows that you’re interested in the team’s thoughts. It also prevents you from forgetting important discussion points. Last, keeping detailed notes during one-on-one conversations with employees is essential for any future human resources issues that may arise. Store all co-op employee communications notes in a password-protected digital folder or in a locked physical folder. Include the date, time, and location of each conversation within the notes for future reference.
Taking on the new challenge of management is exciting and often brings a lot of ideas. As you settle into the role, ideas for how to improve team processes and initiate new projects will begin flooding your mind. Resist the urge to share this flood of thoughts with your team, management peers, or superiors. Instead, let the ideas marinate as you become more familiar with the role and the overall organization.
Be intentional with how you bring forward new ideas to anyone in the office. Also, remain consistent with changing processes or initiating new projects. Again, most employees resist change and become anxious around impulsive superiors, feeling that they can never know quite what to expect. Taking your time to process ideas and only revealing the best ones to others in the office will solidify your reputation as a thoughtful, emotionally intelligent leader.
The transition into management can be stressful and overwhelming. Ease the stress and set yourself up for success by prioritizing communications with your employees. Prioritizing communications includes setting clear expectations, being an active listener, building trust with your management peers, being an intentional and consistent communicator and more. When your team trusts your judgement and knows that you listen to their thoughts and concerns, they’ll be more productive and happier in the workplace. Want to learn more about setting yourself up for success as a new manager and find more communication tips for new managers? We highly recommend the book “The First-Time Manager” by Loren Belker, Jim McCormick and Gary Tipchik. It’s packed with useful and practical tips for new organizational leaders.
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Cadenced Communications helps corporate leaders and communications professionals find the best rhythm of communications for their organizations.
Strategic and streamlined corporate communications bring organizational cadence by improving interdepartmental relationships, motivating employees, increasing productivity and more. Our useful tips, tools and resources are designed to help you begin improving communications in your company today.