Keep Your Communications Style Positive

What’s your communication style when “presenting” one-on-one to your employee? Are you the listener/friend to whom he can tell anything? Or the person who makes the ground rattle when blame needs to be placed?

One of the best ways for a little communications style dust off is preparing for the next annual review you conduct. You know – when your employees are called into your office for the “naughty and nice” conversation everyone dreads.

So, how about a little self-analysis?

• Do you suck the air out of the room by starting with slams, keeping any positive point until the last minute?

• Do you put your audience at ease by beginning with a positive point, and take it from there?

• Are you a “carrot and stick” presenter, alternating positive points with negative ones?

Now, let’s tweak that personae. Organize for this “presentation” as you would for a speech:

Open with a summary. Let your audience know where you are going – the same skill you would use when speaking to a group. In this case, your opening comment, your headline, is a summary statement of “the good, the bad and the ugly.” Remember, communications is about building relationships with team members, even those who are leaving.

Pause. Give the listener a moment to take the information in.  Don’t rush through it.

Build your story using anecdotes. Give specific examples about both positive and negative points you’re making just as you would to get any message across. Even negative feedback can be delivered without belittling that employee’s sense of dignity. You are two people working on the same team, rather than adversaries. Remember, “suggestions for improvement” don’t sting as much when it is stated as such, rather than ego deflating blows to the solar plexus.

Talk about next steps. Based on the employee’s performance, what chances does he have for promotion? Will there be a raise and, if so, has it been limited by performance?

End with a call to action. Is this as a long-term relationship? What behaviors and actions should the employee keep or change?

Even it you are signaling the end of employment or probation, your way of communicating this information should still be interactive and as positive as possible. (But no soft selling to avoid confrontation.)

Use eye contact, approachable body language and respect as you speak. As with a larger audience, it gives the employee a sense of interaction, offers him the ability to ask questions, and reinforces the strength of your message.

This is still a presentation. Make sure your style is an effective one.


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