Eric P. Bloom: Are you properly communicating to your staff?

Eric P. Bloom

As managers, one of our primary responsibilities is properly communicating with our staff. This communication could be task related, relaying announcements made by senior management, performance review oriented, or any one of many other business related topics. My question to you is: Are you properly communicating with your staff? According to extensive research conducted by Dr. Bruce Katcher, the president and founder of Discovery Surveys Inc., and author of "30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers" (AMACOM) the answer is a resounding “maybe.”

According to Dr. Katcher’s research, which is based on more than 60,000 employees spread across more than 85 organizations, the results show the following:

- 52 percent of employees feel they receive adequate feedback from their manager regarding their job performance.

- 51 percent of employees feel that their manager adequately communicates information on activities and general company announcements.

- 60 percent of employees feel that their manager properly communicates individual, department, and company goals to their staff.

- 60 percent of employees feel that their managers give them positive recognition for a job well done.

When reviewing the above statistics, it gives you a little better than a 50/50 chance that your staff thinks you are communicating effectively. Please understand that I’m not trying to accuse anyone of not properly communicating with their team. I’m simply suggesting that only a little more than half of those reporting to us (I’m a manager also) are satisfied with the style, quantity, and/or quality of our communications. That said, consider the following two sets of questions.  As you will see, the nature of these rhetorical questions is to get you thinking about how you communicate with your team from two very different perspectives.

This first set of questions relates to your communication style in general:

- Do you communicate to your staff on a regular basis?  If yes, is it related to all the areas listed in the previously mentioned statistics?

- Do you feel you do a good job communicating job performance to your staff on a regular basis?

- Do you have regular staff meetings?  If yes, do you routinely communicate company related information and goals to your staff?

- Upon personal circumspection, are there any ways you could enhance your communication with your staff?

This second set of questions relates to the communication styles of people reporting to you:

- Do you know how each person on your team likes to communicate?  The theory behind this question is that your personal communication style may be working great with some of your employees, but not with all of them.

- Do you communicate more regularly with members of your team that you personally like more often than those with whom you have less in common?

- Do you communicate effectively with staff members that are not physically at your location?  If not, what can you do to improve your connection with those working virtually?

As you may expect, the above questions are designed to help you gain a better understanding of how you believe your communications are perceived by your staff. In addition to this personal circumspection, also consider asking your staff how they feel about your communications to them. This can be done in a number of ways.  Informally, if you have a strong and open relationship with your group, you can ask them in a staff meeting as a basis for discussion. Optionally, you could also potentially do an anonymous survey via a formalized 360 Manager Review questionnaire or conduct an ad hoc survey yourself using Survey Monkey or other free Web-based surveying tool.

Regardless of the data collection device used to learn how those on your team feel about your communication style, quality, and quantity, your staff will appreciate you taking the time and effort to assure they are getting what they need from you.  Additionally, the things you learn, both positive and negative, can be used to grow as a manager and enhance your personal management style.

Bruce Katcher, Discovery Surveys Inc., and more than 100 articles on how to improve the workplace can be found at

The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:

- Statistics show that you have slightly better than a 50/50 chance that your staff thinks you are communicating effectively.

- The information learned by a combination of personal circumspection and asking those on your team can be used to grow as a manager and enhance your personal management style.

Until next time, manage well, manage smart and continue to grow.

Eric P. Bloom, based in Ashland, Mass., is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a company specializing in information technology leadership development and the governing organization for the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist, keynote speaker, and author of the award-winning book “Manager Mechanics: Tips and Advice for First-Time Managers.” Contact him at, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom, or visit