1. Determining Communication Skills
Perhaps the single most important skill a supervisor can lies within the art of communication. “The basic purpose of communication is to transfer understanding” (Kreitner, 1980).
Clear communication skills are beneficial in all aspects of life including business and can be used effectively to inform, command, instruct, assess, influence, persuade and motivate other people. Supervisors who do not practice effective communication techniques and fail to offer clear instructions and expectations, often find that employees perform their jobs poorly due to lack of understanding what is expected of them (Rue & Byars, 2004).
The first step in effective communication is actively listening to what others are saying and how they are saying it. Observing body language, facial expressions, tone, verbal and nonverbal signals are all valid aspects of active listening. Supervisors interact with people on all levels of business including upper management, venders, customers and subordinates; therefore it is imperative that supervisors are capable to absorb the ideas of others, and to give direction to those who work for them. Often, supervisors must persuade others to accept ideas which they may oppose and to do this the supervisor must communicate effectively. Good communication is the key which directly affects the success of not only the supervisor himself, but the success of the organization.
The majority of communication problems that occur amongst supervisors and subordinates usually develop as a result of miscommunication. Miscommunication can arise when questions go unanswered; points are misinterpreted; interpersonal communication; perception; cultural differences; and semantics. Interpersonal communication between individuals is an interactive process which includes sending and receiving verbal and nonverbal messages. There are instances in which nonverbal communication such as facial expressions, nodding or shaking one’s head can be perceived as approval, disapproval, or permission to proceed with a task. Perception is an attitude or understanding based on what is observed or thought by an individual or group. Strong opinions can be and are often formed on the basis of an individual’s perception of verbal or nonverbal communication. Therefore, it is highly important that supervisors are aware of presenting both negative and positive interpersonal messages. Language and cultural differences often leads to miscommunication errors through verbal and nonverbal factors. Semantics is the study of how meaning or logic in language is created by the use and interrelationships of symbols, words, phrases, and sentences (MSN Encarta, 2008). Supervisors must be knowledgeable concerning the language and cultural differences of those under his command. Simple words and phrases may mean completely different things to workers of differing ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Words must be chosen carefully and clearly defined to enable effective communication between supervisors and subordinates (Rue & Byars, 2004). Much of business communication appears in written form including electronic mail, email, handwritten and computerized text processing, and computer-oriented communication networks. Many larger organizations use HR (human resources) departments that work in conjunction with IT (information technology) departments to provide smooth transmission of information between management levels and subordinates. Supervisors must be knowledgeable in these areas of communication and possess better than average written communication skills. The most important quality a supervisor can exhibit in the area of communication is to be approachable by his subordinates. Not only must a supervisor actively listen, but provide feedback using various methods. Verbal and written feedback is the flow of information between the supervisor and the subordinate. Feedback provides the opportunity to boost morale, correct...
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