Anyone who has worked on a team understands that when there’s a breakdown in communication, a breakdown in performance quickly follows. And when industrial and manufacturing business leaders fail to properly communicate with their teams, the company’s success may be jeopardized.
According to research conducted by Fierce Inc., 86% of workers say poor communication is to blame for failures in the workplace. Why? In most industrial or manufacturing settings, management and frontline employees don’t frequently interact. Workers who are cut off from one another by a physical barrier are more likely to hide the knowledge that could save the company money and are more likely to make mistakes that hurt the company financially.
The question then becomes, what can these business leaders do, and where should they direct their efforts? Even the most accomplished leaders can benefit from continuous education and practice when it comes to communication skills. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the ways leaders can improve their communication skills and become more effective in their roles.
Practice Active Listening
Leaders that actively listen to their employees and value their input demonstrate this by frequently asking them for their thoughts and suggestions. If you want to be an effective leader, you need to practice active listening. To achieve this goal, you must understand — and empathize with — your team and adapt your communication style accordingly.
Here are some ways you and your team can put active listening into practice:
- Listen to them carefully and attentively.
- Put down the phone and your laptop or look away from your monitor.
- Try not to jump in with your own thoughts and ideas.
- Use friendly, receptive body language to convey that you’re really paying attention.
- When responding to an employee, try re-stating their point in your own words.
- To get more information, try asking open-ended questions.
Questions are an integral part of active listening because they help you get insight into the thoughts and experiences of others, discover new knowledge, and gain clarity on a previously ambiguous point. Asking follow-up questions beyond “yes” or “no” with phrases like “tell me more,” “describe that for me,” and “explain what you mean” can improve the quality of responses you get. You can learn a lot about your team’s needs for success if you ask the right questions.
Master Public Speaking Skills
Leaders who want to succeed need to hone their public speaking skills in a variety of situations, from conversations with investors and industry associations to team meetings.
For some leaders, this may be too much to handle. People of all levels of management can benefit from honing their presentation skills. Every leader, at every level, needs time spent working one-on-one or in small groups to improve their skills, receive constructive criticism, and improve. This training aids public speakers in making the most of their presentations, whether they are delivering good or bad news, sharing a personal story, or making a major announcement.
Here are some ways to make the most of public speaking engagements among leaders:
- Learn the context of the speaking engagement so you can maximize your impact.
- Spend some time practicing. An effective presentation relies not just on interesting and relevant content but also on the presenters’ ability to engage with their audience. This is an area where many top executives cut corners, and it usually shows.
- Figure out how to hook your listeners right away and keep them interested all through your presentation. Engage with passion, sincerity, and your own unique style.
Accept and Give Feedback
Getting detailed feedback on what’s going on in the workplace will shed light on various issues, from the production process to the interpersonal relationships between workers. Some of your employees may suggest that you adopt a more efficient production technique by automating formerly manual tasks. They may also reveal an unresolved conflict between a supervisor and their staff, demanding your intervention.
In addition, you will learn about the employees’ perspectives and experiences. For example, you can find out if they are satisfied with their job and what would make them happier. Gaining a better understanding of your employees can help pave the way for change, guiding you toward initiatives that improve output, boost engagement, and minimize turnover.
If you want to be taken seriously as a leader, you need to demonstrate to your team that you appreciate their ideas and are committed to growth. Doing so will inspire your workers to follow suit, which in turn will strengthen and improve the company culture.
Feedback is a two-way street, so you also need to offer suggestions and constructive criticism to your employees. To guarantee that your feedback improves employee engagement, keep the following in mind:
- Show some empathy: The best way to help your employees is to put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective.
- Provide details: When providing criticism, be as detailed as possible to convey the underlying issue.
- Make room for questions: Always start a conversation with questions to gain insight into the present situation and the other person’s point of view.
Be Clear and Direct
Simplifying your message, being specific, and setting clear objectives and performance measures for your team’s initiatives are all essential leadership communication skills. If you want your business to succeed in its goal, you need to articulate your strategy and vision clearly and consistently.
This can help your employees feel more involved and reduce uncertainty about their priorities. In the same vein, clients who don’t share your level of technical expertise will appreciate your presentation more if you use straightforward language to clarify complex ideas.
The Bottom Line
It takes time for manufacturing business leaders to hone their leadership communication skills, but doing so is crucial to the success of their organization. By learning to practice active listening, master public speaking skills, accept and give feedback, and be clear and direct, leaders can feel more confident and prepared to communicate with their employees.
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