How to Communicate Proactively With Employees: 3 Leadership Methods That Increase Engagement

February 21, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Usually the #1 thing that employees criticize about their company and manager is the lack of communication. We know why it’s an issue. Managers get busy and they don’t share information with employees. When there is a lack of information the rumor mills begins rolling really fast. Most of the time it’s negative.

You can head off communication problems with three key practices: effective team meetings, MBWA and one on one coaching sessions.

Effective Team Meetings

Far too many managers don’t hold meetings. A few managers hold too many meetings. Our experience suggests team meeting need to be done weekly to twice a month. These meetings can be done efficiently in 30-90 minutes. By meeting you can:

  • Update your team on business strategy and results
  • Talk about key goals and plans
  • Problem-solve issues
  • Gain invaluable input from the team
  • Listen to your team’s concerns
  • Give recognition
  • Refocus the team’s efforts

How do you hold an effective meeting? First, prepare an agenda ahead of time. Ask for input from your team. From top leaders we know their agendas look like this:

  1. Business update and discuss results
  2. Report from various team members
  3. Problem-solving
  4. Review agreements, action steps and assignments


Author Tom Peters coined this term in his best-selling book, “In Search of Excellence”. Peters found the best managers, managed by wandering around on a daily basis. In other words, they engaged their employees throughout the day. Their engagement involved listening, observing, praising, helping, encouraging, communicating and problem-solving with employees. The overall goal is to facilitate teamwork and to better understand the challenges of their teams.

Coaching One on One

The key here is to meet employees one on one to review individual goals and progress. The goal of coaching is to help develop the employee’s competence and commitment to the job. An effective coaching process is involves a dialogue not a monologue. Ask the employee about their goal progress, what’s working, what isn’t working and what actions they need to take. A manager at times must give valuable feedback or advice to help.

While there are more details to each of these strategies, from the review above you can begin applying them now. Learn from your experiences and keep abreast of the latest ideas. Notice the meeting involves the group as they review work in process. MBWA requires the manager to communicate “live” as work is being executed. Coaching focuses on individual employees. In each of these cases how you communicate is crucial. You goal is to help and to proactively reinforce high expectations and positive work behaviors.

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Rick Conlow is CEO with WCW Partners, a management consulting and training firm. Rick has helped organizations increase sales 218%, improve repeat and referral business by 20%, increase customer retention to 99%, reduce complaints by 60% and achieve 34 quality awards. You can reach Rick at: or 888-313-0514.

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