5 communication skills IT managers need

Often, IT managers are good with technology, but could use help managing employees. One critical area to improve: communication skills.

Almost everything a manager does requires strong communication skills if it’s going to be done effectively. Good communication can motivate and inspire employees, and help develop people into top performers.

And even if an IT manager comes up with a top-notch plan or initiative, it still needs to be well communicated to the staff in order for it to have a positive impact.

Like any skill set, communication can be improved with practice. Here are five essential communication skills IT managers can improve to become more effective leaders:

  1. Listen more than you talk – Having strong communication skills doesn’t mean people are good at talking — it means they’re good at listening. Managers should seek out feedback, and during conversations, make sure that they’re focused on what the other person is saying.
  2. Set an example – For managers to be good communicators, they must make sure employees believe what they’re saying. And one way to eliminate that trust is to behave in a way that contradicts what is said. For example, if an IT manager stresses the important of being courteous to users who call the help desk, the manager must follow those rules, too.
  3. Be honest – Likewise, managers quickly lose their employees’ trust if they do too much to sugar coat difficult messages. All that does is add confusion and leave things open to an incorrect interpretation.
  4. Be specific – One tough part of manager’s job is to have difficult conversations with employees about performance or other issues, and it takes strong communication skills to make it through those effectively. One key: Focus on results and point to specific examples of the problem. And when giving advice, offer specific tips, too.
  5. Make it personal – Good communication from a manager involves talking to a group of employees as well as talking to people individually. Make it a point to regularly meet with all staff members one-on-one. Just showing an interest in employees’ individual success can be a huge motivator.

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