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Communication skills for managers

Become confident, comfortable and consistent with staff communications.

On this page

  • Understand the benefits of good communication
  • Find solutions to common errors
  • Use specific examples, guidelines and tools
It is important that communication with staff does not only occur around negative instances and that positive achievements are well communicated as well.  All of this helps to engage staff and reduce turnover - highly engaged staff are more profitable staff.

Communication and feedback is the key to a successful working environment as it helps:

  • people learn
  • create opportunity for professional and personal development
  • boost morale and loyalty
  • provide insight into how your business is running

A great way to set the foundations for successful staff communication is to use our template to clearly outline your businesses policies and procedures.

HR manual template (DOCX 234.96 KB)DOCX icon 

Common errors and simple solutions


Some things to avoid are:

  • only ever giving negative or redirecting feedback
  • sandwiching negative feedback in between two positive feedback messages – the person will only hear the good
  • storing up 12 months of feedback and dumping this on employees in one meeting
  • being insincere when giving positive feedback
  • not being direct enough or honest enough - fluffing around the issues
  • yelling, screaming or getting emotional
  • allowing the employee to steer the conversation
  • communicating in an inappropriate forum – e.g. email, publicly, hallway conversations
  • avoid making it personal and by the way it’s not about YOU, focus on the receiver
  • being unprepared and 'winging it'.


Things to try instead are:

  • being balanced and giving positive and negative feedback when its due
  • be direct and honest and give the feedback truthfully
  • be timely in your feedback and communication as it happens – don’t put it off
  • practice and prepare what you are going to say – be specific, use examples
  • practice and prepare what you are going to say – be specific
  • be prepared you are the manager and you need display a calm approach – do not match behaviour
  • allowing the employee to steer the conversation
  • always communicate face to face – so much is lost in translation when you shoot off emails, also as a general rule praise in public criticise in private
  • focus on facts, have all the right information and evidence if possible and use examples
  • have a script and plan what you are going to say.

Specific examples, guidelines and tools

The following provide some common sense scenarios that business owners may face.  All of the issues listed below should be a part of regular discussion when you review staff performance.

Constant lateness

An employee is constantly late to work, you have spoken to them informally but now you want to speak to them in a more formal setting.

To solve the problem you should:

  • organise a meeting with your employee
  • go through the actual dates and times they were late – be specific
  • ask them if there is a reason why they are continually late – listen and give them a chance to speak
  • document the conversation and place in their file
  • give them a copy and ask them to agree to try to be on time in future.

A job well done

An employee has completed a major project and you want to give them positive reinforcing feedback.

To give great feedback you should:

  • organise a meeting with your employee
  • gather all the information about the project
  • be generous and specific with feedback
  • explain how their contribution has benefited the business
  • be prepared and be sincere, practice if you need to.

Dealing with redundancy

You need to make an employee redundant as you have had a downturn in work.

To best support the employee you should:

  • organise a meeting with your employee
  • prepare a formal letter to help structure the conversation
  • be prepared for the employee's adverse reaction
  • listen to the employee if they want to vent or voice how they are feeling
  • don’t avoid if they get emotional
  • be professional, don’t promise things you cannot commit to.

Find out more about how to deal with redundancy and retrenchment including creating a redundancy pack and final payments.

Staff not working well together

Your team are having issues communicating with each other and you need to get them together to outline your expectations for how you want them to work together.

To deal with this issue you should:

  • organise a meeting for the whole team
  • ask the team to voice their frustrations in a constructive manner
  • document team responses and try and come up with fixes or recommendations
  • get the team to agree on an action plan
  • act as a facilitator for the session, but do not take over or railroad outcomes
  • document your action plan and make it happen.

Inducting a new staff member

You have a new staff member that you need to induct into your business

For a great induction you should:

  • make time, be present – the new employee is probably nervous your job is to make them feel at ease and welcome them
  • be prepared, have a plan
  • be friendly don’t leave them by themselves
  • use our induction plan to help make it a smooth transition.

Get more information about staff induction and probationary review.