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How to spot poor front line manager communication

"People don't leave bad companies, they leave bad managers."

How do you feel about your manager's communication skills? Are the members of your team always (and I mean, always) the last one to know what is happening in the company? Is he hard to talk to, so much so, that you have resorted to daily dosage of 'strong back' whenever you have to speak with him? Is he just plain rude to everyone and on top of that considers himself God 2.0? Sorry to disappoint you but if your immediate boss displays any one of the aforementioned features you are not alone - and neither is he.

The nature of the beast of business is that more often than not some employees are promoted on the basis of excellence in their technical area of competence and it is usually largely on this basis that they become our bosses. The effectiveness of their communication skills is not usually considered in the mix as it is not a priority as long as they can get the job done -- by fair means or foul.

Of course this makes the rest of us lead very miserable lives at the place where we 'live' for at least forty-hours each week. There are some who have crafted methods of escape from managers who would not know the meaning of effective communication if it slapped them across the face as some of us wish we could do to them. I have colleagues who have chosen unemployment or demotion rather than work with managers who they consider to be pigs.

The truth is that without effective communication there can be little or no performance management, innovation or effective customer service management. But the unfortunate situation is that the manager with poor communication skills will perhaps never know the truth as quickly as they ought to because, well for one thing, they are poor listeners. If your boss displays one or more of these characteristics she may be in dire need of some type of communication training. You can help of course by cutting out this article and mysteriously leaving it on the desk of the miscreant. If fingers are pointed at you, feel free to plead 'The Shaggy' i.e. 'It wasn't me'. You have my permission however to tell them that it was me.

The remote control manager: Is your manager one of those persons who refuses to meet collaboratively with the staff to share ideas and get feedback? In fact when was the last time you had a departmental meeting where you could be properly briefed on new company procedures? The manager who shuns face-to-face communication usually pushes out instructions via e-mail or uses a hateful minion to announce and implement some ridiculous 'new company policy'. The garden variety of this type of manager is the one who will meet with employees but only if there is good news to be told. Count him out when there are benefit cuts, staff reduction or any such bad news to be shared. He only wants to be there for the good times. Send him for some training.

Out of control manager: Like a spoilt child, this manager believes that the promotion gave him power over all he surveyed. It also meant that he did not have to follow the rules of polite society, which includes uttering ever again the words, 'good morning', 'good evening' while hurrying in on his way in or out of office. This person has not learned how to ask you to put in unpaid overtime work without making it sound like an order. In fact given the choice he would rather not speak with any member of his staff now that he has climbed way pass their station. Alas, he has to and so he is very resentful of this situation. This is one manager who will need an intense session. Quickly.

Silent Sam: Silence is not always golden and there are times when these managers have to speak to, and on behalf of their staff. Silent Sam is the kind of manager who hears no evil, speaks no evil and sees no evil - yet by this behaviour can be evil incarnate. He is the boss who 'neva know nutten yet' but is very capable of covering his rear very adequately yet leaving the ample behinds of you and your co-workers way out in the cold, exposed to the elements, especially fire. He will have information that might help the team along but refuse to share it or will do so only in drips and drabs because he has not quite wrapped his head around the idea of leadership and collective responsibility. or, to be fair to him he just knows how to take care of himself alone. A crash course might rescue him.

We all know that it is hard out there. It is challenging and the quality of employees that you are given to work with is certainly no walk in the park as some of them do try your soul to its absolute limits. However, when all is said and done, you have to work with the staff you have inherited or selected. The best way to ease the burden and to make it less painful for both manager and employee is to equip them with the necessary skills to make the 40-hours goby quickly.


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