Effective Communication Skills Every Startup Founder Needs To Know

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Poor management more often than not starts with poor communication skills. If you're leading a successful team, you need to make sure you're all on the same page and that clear, effective open channels of communication are present at all times. Talking is one element, listening is another and the best managers are the best listeners.

You’ve heard the stat before: 9/10 startups will fail. There are many factors that can make or break a new business, yet poor management tends to be at the top, specifically a lack of expertise in managing employees. This goes beyond handing out orders and extends to developing and improving interpersonal skills with your employees in the workplace.  Consider the ways in which improving the following communication skills could help to guarantee your startup a spot in the 10% that succeed.

Verbal Communication

As a leader, the way you speak is oftentimes the most important thing you can focus on. The key trait you should exhibit when verbally communicating with your team is to remain confident, professional, clear and courteous. Never resort to anger, insults or passive aggressive behavior; it can lead to both tension in the workplace as well as disrespect.

While handing out criticism when it is deserved is something every manager will have to do, there are a few things you can do to make the situation remain positive. Don’t embarrass the employee by announcing the issue in front of their colleagues. Instead, speak to them one-on-one and always keep your comments constructive. Remember that people do make mistakes, and offer your employee the opportunity to problem-solve the issue to see where the mistake was made and how to learn from it. Use your leadership skills to focus on the future – and by extension, the positive.

Nonverbal Communication

While nonverbal and verbal communication skills often go hand in hand, there are also some things to focus on in the former category. The most important ones to keep in mind are both your facial expressions and hand gestures.

When assigning a task to an employee or talking to them about any given issue, remember not to cross your arms as it gives the impression of distance, annoyance, or even anger. When you are passionately speaking about a topic, remember to keep your facial expressions (and tone) in check, in order to avoid coming off tempered or too emotional. When giving an employee advice or criticism, make sure to never do the dreaded finger-wag, as it shows a lack of respect and implies condescension.

Listening Skills

As a manager, it is of course part of your job to delegate tasks and offer both suggestions as well as constructive criticism. However, when your employees approach you to talk about an issue, whether it be with their work, a colleague, the workplace, or even you, listen to understand rather than to respond.

Employees can often provide managers with company insights that they would have no idea about, and when employees know their concerns are heard and will be acted on, they will in turn feel more appreciated and respected.

Checking In

Another way to improve communication skills with your employees are simple check-ins. Your employees must know that their thoughts and feelings are valued, and as a founder, it will significantly improve your working relationships with all of your staff. Organize monthly or periodic check-ins, asking your employees to come prepared for a short review, where they can discuss any outstanding issues, ideas, or any future plans. Brief check-ins will make a world of difference in the office atmosphere.

When you begin implementing these simple suggestions and skills into your managerial role at the office, you will see how appreciated they will be, and what it really means to be seen and respected as a leader.




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Photo Credit: Franck Mahon via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA