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A crisis of communication.

Leadership requires an open give and take

The big-screen workplace comedy of 1999, Office Space, offers great lessons on management and professionalism. In it, a division vice president relays information to his staff via memos and through the incessant haranguings of the supervisors who report to him. He also makes his rounds to individual staffers, issues a directive, and walks away without waiting for so much as a response, never mind a discussion. Not exactly the best method for fostering open communication--a key component of an efficient office,

In the movie, this behavior is hilarious. In real life, however, it's disastrous, "Whether he or she intends to or not, a leader dictates the behavior of his or her staff by the way he or she communicates' both verbally and nonverbally, says Susan Annunzio, author of eLeadership: Proven Techniques for Creating an Environment of Speed and Flexibility in the Digital Economy (The Free Press, $25). For example, when a manager stays locked up in his or her office and withholds information from employees, he or she is fostering a secretive environment; "When you do decide to come out and talk with the staff, they will think you are lying to them. And that makes them think they can lie back to you."

Communication is a huge part of a manager's job. And since most employees take their cues from management, it behooves the person in charge to convey all of the company's strategies clearly and properly. Communication Briefings, an Alexandria, Virginia-based newsletter, offers several suggestions to help managers get on the road to becoming communications masters:

* It isn't necessarily better to give than to receive. Communication is a two-way street. It isn't enough to just give orders; feedback from employees is crucial if productivity is to be maximized.

* Become a credible witness. If you don't have integrity, your employees won't believe what you say--no matter how hard you try to communicate with them.

* Put in one-on-one face time. Don't use memos or e-mail as your main method of communication. Arrange sessions with each staff member to see how you can help each other do your jobs better.

* Take your cues from the good cops. Information from you to your employees should be used to "protect and serve" them, not be wielded like a nightstick over them.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Review; employee- management
Author:Clarke, Robyn D.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
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