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Communication Skills for Supervisors

Communication Skills for Supervisors

Communication Skills for Supervisors

For your organisation to succeed, your Supervisors need to be proficient in these communication skills:

  1. Clear communication of the goal, or the target, to be hit.
  2. Clear communication of the plan (the ability to give clear instructions or requests)
  3. Communication of a decision and the reasons for the decision.
  4. Communication of delegated tasks.
  5. Giving constructive criticism / handling conflict situations and difficult people.
  6. Giving praise and appreciation.
  7. Motivating the team and inspiring a positive atmosphere.
  8. The proper and improper use of humour.

1. Clear communication of the goal, or the target, to be hit.

Since the purpose of your organisation is to succeed in achieving its stated goals, the supervisors need to be able to communicate what those goals are to everyone who is associated with making things happen on the ground.

All too often the people doing the work on the front-line, are not sure what it is that they are supposed to be trying to achieve.

Obviously, a clear sense of what the goal is, will make the achievement of the goal more likely.

2. Clear communication of the plan (giving clear instructions or requests).

All goals require plans to achieve them. A goal without a plan is a delusion.

So, just as a supervisor should be able to communicate a goal, so too should the supervisor be able to explain the PLAN that will achieve the goal: who will do what, with whom, with what, by when?

The supervisor must be able to explain what is supposed to happen today.

3. Communication of a decision and the reasons for the decision.

An important part of supervisory management is the ability to make decisions.

  • Yes or no decisions?
  • Which one decision?
  • What kind decisions?

The supervisor needs to be able to communicate what decisions he/she has made, and the reasons why they made them in that way.

Explaining reasons for a particular decision is an important part of communication skills.

4. Communication of delegated tasks.

All plans require that certain tasks be done by certain people within a specified time. This is delegation.

So, the supervisor must be an expert delegator. Delegation is the act of entrusting the right task to the right person. And delegation is also a specific form of communication. So delegation is part of supervisor's communication skills set.

5. Giving constructive criticism / Handling conflict situations and difficult people.

If you have a plan and delegated tasks, then your supervisors will soon come up against the situation of people failing to follow the plan; or failing to do what they were asked to do.

Then the supervisor must do some "performance management": ie give some constructive feedback, in the sense of constructive criticism.

Constructive criticism is a very important communication skill that needs to be mastered by all supervisors and managers.

There are many managers and supervisors who mess this up badly; they make their criticism sound like a telling off.

Most kids, and all grownups, HATE being told off. And being told off by the boss usually leads to worse performance, over time.

Corrective feedback is an art and a science and is an important part of communication skills for supervisors and managers.

6. Giving praise and appreciation.

On the other side of the ledger, supervisors need to give proper praise and appreciation to those who have earned it.

One of the most common errors made by supervisors is to forget to give proper praise and appreciation for a job well done. The lack of appreciation is keenly felt by the worker whose efforts seem to have gone unnoticed and unappreciated.

The lack of appreciation is a de-motivator.

The application of a few kind words of appreciation can work wonders.

7. Motivating the team and inspiring a positive atmosphere.

The application of kind words is part of the communication skills portfolio of a motivational manager or supervisor. The ability to use your words to purposefully inspire the positive emotions of optimism, confidence, motivation, pride and purpose is one of the greatest communication skills you could master.

You want to be able to inspire others, by the power of your words.

If you can do that you are well on your way to being a super supervisor.

8. The proper and improper use of humour.

Everyone likes to laugh, have fun, make a few jokes. Having fun is a part of being at work. And we know that it is sometime appropriate and it adds value to have a certain amount of fun and games whilst at work. But not too much.

If you laugh at the wrong thing, or the wrong person, or at the wrong time, or if you come across too often as a comedian, then nobody will take you seriously as a supervisor.

You will become the office clown: Funny? Yes. But nobody will follow a clown into battle. And don't want a clown for a boss.

So be cautious of your use of humour at work. Have a fine sense of fun. A good sense of humour. But put a limit on it. Don't trivialise yourself or anyone else by overdosing on laughter.

Humour is a subtle communication skill that needs to be pitched correctly. It is good if humour is present, but only in limited amounts.

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Further Reading in Supervisory Management Skills

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