Unfortunately, hiring good employees isn’t enough to make your small business successful. You need to make sure those top-notch workers make a real commitment to your organization — it’s the only way they’ll stick around and grow your business.
Luckily, engaging your employees doesn’t have to involve fancy tools and tricks. All you need are effective communication skills.
According to a 2011 study published in the International Journal of Business and Management, a manager’s ability to communicate clearly, listen, and lead had the strongest impact on his employees’ organizational commitment.
To communicate effectively, you must make a meaningful connection with your people. But it’s not just a question of using the right words. It’s essential that your actions support your words. Employees want to know that you have the same values and principles they do. When you connect with their hearts, you’ll get them to support your organizational goals.
Becoming an effective communicator will help you obtain the employee commitment you need to strengthen your company. Here are five tips that will enhance your ability to communicate:
Know Your Audience
Communication starts with knowing who’s in front of you. Ask yourself why this group or person would want to listen to you. Anticipate the questions your audience will ask, then provide answers or ask additional questions.
Former President George W. Bush once addressed a live audience of more than 5,000 highly educated and successful professionals to discuss his new book. When he got on stage, he immediately mentioned that many of the attendees probably wondered how he could write a book when most of them thought he’d never even read one. The audience immediately began clapping and cheering. By addressing the elephant in the room and knowing his audience, Bush won them over.
Keep It Simple
After you’ve related your message to the people in front of you, be clear about what you’re saying, and support your message with facts. You can also take a different approach by asking open-ended questions to encourage your listeners to use their imagination.
Tell a Story
People love stories they can relate to, and it’s much easier for the brain to memorize a story than to recall facts and figures. Remember, stories have been instrumental in transmitting knowledge for hundreds of years, so the brain is hard-wired to enjoy them. Take advantage of that fact as you communicate.
Make It Personal
Your message will be more meaningful if you make it personal. Some of the best speakers in the world have the ability to make you dream and feel important. They’ve learned how to make their words understandable and personal. Similarly, your employees will be more likely to understand and follow you if you forge a personal connection with them.
For example, I love the story of the boy whose dog gave birth to six puppies. When the boy’s mother told him he could only keep one puppy, he spent days attempting to give the others away with no success. So he took a new approach: He named the puppies after his five best friends and visited them to show them their namesakes. After that, his friends couldn’t resist adopting the puppies because the boy had made the situation personal.
Show your audience who you really are. People have beliefs, ideas, principles, values, and dreams. When you speak from the heart, it doesn’t matter what you say — your audience will believe you, and you’ll always make an impact.
When journalist León Krauze had the chance to interview Barack Obama at the White House, he was undoubtedly nervous. The White House staff, who gave him minute-by-minute updates of when the interview was going to start, did not make the situation easier. But when the time came, Obama entered the room with a smile on his face. He sat down and immediately asked Krauze about his family and how he was doing.
In mere seconds, Krauze felt himself relaxing. Just a few authentic words were enough for Obama to understand who was in front of him, put him at ease, and make an impact.
Running your business is like conducting an orchestra — you have to be able to coordinate the energy and harmony of your employees. You can’t expect them to just follow without space for innovation and creation. They can’t read your mind, after all. If you’re unable to effectively communicate, people will guess and make incorrect assumptions. Strong, personal communication bridges that gap and makes your best employees even better.