If you want to be a good leader then it’s essential that you’re also a good communicator.
What you say to your staff, no matter how minor you think it might be, can have an impact on job satisfaction and productivity.
According to international business speaker Michael Kerr, good communication is a core part of a leader’s job – not just an afterthought.
And good communication isn’t just about the words you say – it’s about your tone of voice and body language, too.
Kerr explains that good leaders will “often take the time to say things face-to-face rather than through email in order to build trust, develop relationships, manage conflict, and inspire employees.”
As an NFP leader, think about incorporating these fifteen phrases into your work day to better communicate with your staff.
1. “Good morning.”
Rather than breezing past staff on your way to your office, take the time to say good morning. It’s only a small thing, but people will notice. As Kerr says, “It shows you’re truly present, and taking the time to connect at a personal level.”
2. “Great job.”
The fact is, everyone has a basic need to be shown appreciation. Don’t overuse this phrase though – as workplace expert Lynn Taylor notes, overused praise can sometimes “lose its meaning — so use this phrase sparingly.”
3. “Yes.” Or, “Sure, let’s try it.”
Saying yes to an employee’s new idea can give them a chance to develop. True, there’s risk involved, but as Taylor points out “Bosses who believe in the axiom, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained,’ attract the best talent and create a dynamic environment.”
4. “That was my mistake.”
Admitting when you’ve made a mistake is something all leaders should do. It can also show your team that it’s okay to make mistakes themselves, which then encourages them to take risks and learn from their mistakes – which is essential in any role.
5. “Thank you”
Consider some of the more common reasons that people leave an organisation. Not feeling appreciated is often at the top of the list.
Michael Kerr explains: “Workplaces where bosses do a better job of consistently showing gratitude toward employees have lower absenteeism rates, lower turnover rates, better customer service scores, and higher productivity.”
6. “What do you need from me to help you do your job better?” Or, “How can I be of greater support to you?”
You might think that saying to your staff “I’m here if you need me” is enough, but as Lynn Taylor says “Saying you are available to help and proactively asking this are two different things.”
As a leader, one of your most important roles is to provide support to your people. So regularly checking in with your staff and following up with practical support to make sure they can do the best possible job is a powerful motivator.
7. “Here’s an example”
If you’re briefing staff on a new project, or asking them to do something they’ve never done before, providing examples will help better explain what you want from your team.
8. “Here’s my feedback”
In the NFP sector, time and budget constraints often mean that evaluating what works and what doesn’t are sometimes given limited attention. Spending some time giving feedback to staff about what they did well – or not so well – is valuable to staff development and will also help to ensure you keep improving your project or organisation’s outcomes.
9. “What do you think?”
There are two great reasons for asking your staff for feedback. First, it helps them to feel valued and appreciated which can increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover.
And second, getting ongoing and regular feedback from people who are closest to your clients, your suppliers or your projects, will make your organisation work better too.
10. “Here’s why we’re doing this.”
NFPs are often in a state of flux – with uncertain funding and new projects starting and ending. Change can be unsettling, so make sure you explain “why” you’re doing things, not just “what” you’re doing.
As Lynn Taylor explains, “bad bosses don’t fully explain the why behind initiatives. Good bosses take the extra time to provide the larger management objective behind a project. Not only is that motivational, but it leads to more targeted results.”
11. “How are things going?” Or, “Are you being challenged?” Or, “Are you having fun?”
Your organisation may already have an annual performance review process, but making sure your people are happy and challenged should be an ongoing dialogue. Again, your staff will feel valued, but it also has the added benefit of helping you keep on top of any potential issues as they arise, rather than having them fester over months and become an issue.
12. “Keep me in the loop”
As a leader you want to know what’s going on in your organisation, even when you’re not directly involved. Asking to be kept in the loop lets your team know that you want to know what’s going on while allowing you to be hands-off enough so you don’t become a micro-manager.
13. “Tell me about how your day/week is going.”
This is all about being a great listener – say it, then stop talking! As Kerr says: “Very few people rave about their boss because they’re a great talker…But some say what they love most is how awesome of a listener their boss is.”
As Taylor explains, the best leaders “use clever humour to diffuse tension and gain better solidarity with their teams. Levity is a well-developed art that puts the job at hand into perspective. And humour is the shortest pipeline to the memory banks; if you want your team to remember something of importance, humour is a powerful tool.”
Make sure you’re laughing with people, not at them though – humour shouldn’t be at anyone’s expense.
15. “What are your dreams?”
Understanding a staff member’s professional and personal ambitions is a great way to help you understand what motivates them, to help them grow within their role, and over time, hopefully to grow within your organisation too.
What useful phrases do you use regularly to connect with colleagues and staff? Let us know in the comments below.
This blog is based on an article that original appeared on Business Insider Australia.