We all understand the importance of having managers as the key link in the communication process. But, we often struggle when trying to turn the ideal into reality. One of our primary roles as communicators is to ensure that managers are well supported so that they can succeed with what they are asked to accomplish. From that standpoint, there are some critical areas we must focus our attention on.
Firstly, we need to understand what it is we are seeking from our managers and supervisors. While on the surface it is easy to say we want them to be effective communicators, I feel we are setting them up, and ourselves for failure if we don’t look beyond that role. More importantly, we want them to do all they can to ‘engage’ those who work for and with them in the business.
With that in mind, our task then becomes one of helping managers understand the role they must fulfill and then provide them with specific skills and tools and a depth of understanding to do the job. My five step CLADE™ model outlines where focused attention will lead to a solid start in fostering employee engagement:
CLADE™ – Champion, Listen, Align, Demonstrate and Engage
Champion. A key role of managers is to understand the organizational vision and do whatever they can to help others understand what it is and why it is so important. As communicators, we must ensure we help managers and leaders develop a clear sense of understanding of the direction the company is going and ensure they are able to champion that direction through simple, everyday messages that employees understand.
Listen. Managers have to be able to grasp what it is employees are concerned with. And the key to that is having and using well-developed listening skills. For communicators, the challenge is to find ways to help managers understand the importance of listening as a tool and identifying and providing effective programs to ensure managers develop and continuously enhance those skills.
Align. To be effective, managers must be able to help employees clearly understand the critical issues facing the business and more specifically the issues facing their department or work group – they must be able to establish a set of related priorities. Once they achieve that task, they must work to ensure that the efforts of employees are fully and consistently aligned to those priorities. For communicators, it is important that our efforts help managers understand the issues and interpret them for employees.
Demonstrate. Walking the talk is one of the great mysteries of business communications, but it needn’t be. Critical to getting employees commitment is ensuring that managers and supervisors clearly demonstrate the desired behaviors each and every moment of every day. And this means that the role of communicators becomes one of helping others understand the corporate values and their importance, including the associated behaviors that need to be lived. Furthermore, it means we have to help others know what to look for and learn how to challenge those behaviors that are out of line with the intended. Finally, it means we have to be aware of what the systems and processes of our company communicate.
Engage. Managers, leaders and supervisors everywhere must understand that their primary role is one of engaging those who work for them. Engagement is all about connecting people, strategy and the day-to-day work experience – and for communicators this means a great deal! In particular it means we must help develop a broad-based contextual understanding of the context within which the business operates and ensure that managers are supported in developing the full skill set they need to succeed: active listening, facilitation, coaching, effective questioning, differing personalities and dispute resolution.
If you focus your attention on each of these five areas you will be well on your way to ensuring your managers can deliver what is expected…an engaged workforce delivering higher performance. I look forward to your comments and input….cheers for now, Ken.
Note: CLADE is a term drawn from biology and relates to a group of organisms considered as having evolved from a common ancestor.
- Managers and Employee Engagement: 4 Critical Conversations (kenmilloy.wordpress.com)
- Engage me if you can – The ABC’s of Employee Engagement
- Help Managers Do Engagement
- Bad Benefits Disguised as Perks – I like this piece because it supports the notion that massages are other perks are not truly “things” that will help build engagement