If Employees Came With Instruction Manuals…

by Jennifer Spencer, Written Communications Manager, Target Training International (TTI)

A benefit of working with a team for an extended period of time can be that you eventually identify more effective ways to communicate with individuals. Unfortunately, this discovery is traditionally made through trial and error, a method that is inefficient and can be potentially damaging to the employee-manager relationship. But what if you had the tools to know from the beginning of the working relationship the best approaches to take for effective communication? Moreover, what if you could predetermine the communication style that would be best suited for the job?

I worked once with a graphic designer who preferred to receive initial instruction verbally and as close to the conception of the project as possible. If I was assigning him a new piece of collateral to design, he worked best after having a detailed conversation in which I explained the reason for the piece we were creating, the goals and expectations associated with the finished product, and a big picture view of how this piece would (or wouldn’t) come into play with other company materials. Following that conversation, I would email him a detailed account of the project, including print specifications, color options, deadlines and delivery instructions. Unfortunately, this employee didn’t tell me he preferred this method of communication, and like the other seven employees directly reporting to me at the time, he didn’t come with an instruction manual. I learned how to manage him the hard way, and my inability to communicate with him often hindered our department’s productivity.

A few years later, I was working with a new designer. Properly trained by my former employee, I dove into this new relationship with confidence. If my last designer had a particular communication preference, and the job was essentially the same, then I would apply what I learned in the past and I was guaranteed success, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong. This second designer wanted to have as little interaction as possible. He viewed talking to or meeting with me directly as an additional and unnecessary step preventing him from getting the assignment done in an efficient and accurate manner. I quickly learned I needed to adjust my communication style with this employee if our team was to be successful.

Just because employees don’t come with instruction manuals, doesn’t mean managers have to be left in the dark. In a recent report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employees rated their relationship with their immediate supervisor as more important to their job satisfaction than even benefits. Furthermore, the study indicated that this was the third time in a row that employees had rated this aspect among the top five contributors to job satisfaction. The study further revealed that the relationship employees have with their supervisors is directly connected to the employees’ success and growth at work.

When multiple science, or multivariate, assessments are used in the recruitment and development of employees, managers are provided with a detailed view of the entire person. They’ll understand the manner each employee best communicates; the specific soft skills each employee has mastered, or needs to further develop; and even the motivators that drive each employee. And, with a corresponding coaching report and development plan, managers and employees have a structure and a language with which they can communicate and experience shared success.

Interested in learning more? Call Susan Bellows for a free consultation today at 413-566-3934

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