When you take over a team, outline expectations for how you want to communicate with your new employees. Doing so helps to ensure that they meet those expectations, that you reduce misunderstandings and that you prevent productivity-zapping communication breakdowns.
As soon as you assume your role as leader, lay out these guidelines:
How you prefer to communicate
Are you OK with texting and instant messaging? Should employees always use the phone or meet you in person? If you are open to all formats, outline when they should use each. For example, in emergencies, they should call or stop by your desk, but for less urgent issues, they can email or text. Or if an issue is confidential, they should always meet you in person.
Should employees be available around the clock for urgent situations or can they go “off the grid” after work hours? Will you respond after hours and by what format?
Setting those parameters helps to prevent delays in problem solving, leaks in confidential information, and conflict among employees.
How often you want to communicate
Do you want to connect with employees daily or is weekly enough? Do you want to be kept in the loop on everything or alerted only when something out of the norm happens? As a new manager, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by constant updates from employees. On the other hand, you don’t want to miss key opportunities early on to connect with employees and build relationships. You also don’t want to be in the dark on important issues.
Let employees know when they should update you or seek your guidance.
Your top communication pet peeves
How are employees supposed to know what bothers you, if you don’t tell them? If you detest it when someone hits “Reply All” or blind copies you on everything, let them know. You want to spell out the habits that employees should avoid.
On the contrary, you also want employees to know your communication quirks too. Do you only read email once each day? Do you let all calls go to voicemail during specific hours? Don’t force them to figure it out over time. Tell them upfront.
The goal in all this is to eliminate any barriers that could prevent effective communication from Day 1. Taking some time upfront can prevent a great deal of wasted time, mistakes and hurt feelings later.