Effective Communication Skills For Managers

Successful management means balancing goals with resources.  When it comes to people, the manager’s most valuable resource, that balancing act is dependent on successful communication.  Learning to be a good communicator can be harder than most people expect.  Here are three aspects of good communication that all supervisors can benefit from:


Focusing is key to listening.  Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell in her article The Difference Between Hearing & Listening Skills on Livestrong.com puts it very well, “Hearing is a passive occurrence… Listening, on the other hand, is a conscious choice that demands your attention and concentration.”  Listening means engaging in the conversation.  Listening can suffer when the listener is planning their response before the speaker has even finished speaking.

A good listener can restate the speaker’s point.  Understanding means the listener can summarize the speaker’s words back to them.  If the listener can’t do this, then they have been hearing the speaker, but not truly listening.

Listening also means not being distracted.  Being able to tune distractions out is an important skill especially for busy managers.  Sometimes not being distracted requires pro-active actions like turning off notifications, turning off monitors, or moving to a quiet room.


Communication is not a game, and it has no winners.  Successfully communicating with others means finding common ground.  In the Forbes magazine article Effective Managers Earn Trust Quickly By Doing 5 Things Well, Glenn Llopis observes, “Strong managers recognize that perception is reality and thus will play the political game accordingly…”.  Everyone involved needs to feel like they have a stake in the discussion and the resolution.

Glenn’s emphasis on perception is key.  Diplomacy is as much about the participants’ feelings as it is about finding a resolution.  Diplomacy when managing a team is not about making the team function according to one person’s plan, even if that person is the leader.  A successful team works towards common goals, and everyone involved needs to see that goal as their own.


CIO.com’s article 11 Communication Skills of Effective Project Leaders by Moira Alexander, quotes Mark Grimm of Mark Grimm Communications as saying, “A leader’s top communication quality is the ability to paint a clear and vibrant picture of the company or group’s true purpose.”  In other words, a leader can express the goals of a project in a way the listener can understand.  Teams of any size, from small projects to entire companies, need to understand their purpose.  An individual’s performance will directly correlate to their understanding of the immediate and long-term goals they are supporting.

Communication is essential to most relationships in business.  Productive communication will work in both directions.  Management needs to be able to share goals clearly.  They also need to be able to understand what those involved are saying.  Being diplomatic when expressing ideas is only half the equation.  Listening is equally critical to success.