How to Become a Better Communicator With Your IT Staff

Do you find that you or your IT team members aren't communicating as well as they could or should? If you said 'yes,' here are two powerful techniques you can apply to significantly improve the way you communicate and the impact you achieve.

By Bob Kantor
Thu, September 06, 2012

CIO — Do you ever wish that your IT staff communicated more effectively? With key stake holders? With each other? And with you?

Do your team members frequently go into too much detail when they communicate? Talk too much and listen to little? Get hung up on arguing their point rather than building consensus? Walk away from conversations before they've achieved and confirmed a shared understanding?

Do you ever find that you can't get past the second slide of your PowerPoint deck in a meeting? Or that your boss starts interrupting your answers with more questions, before you've answered her last one?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, check out the following two powerful techniques to improve your communication skills.

IT leader communication skills

A 'One-Two Punch' to Double Your Communications Impact

A few months ago I started a thread in one of the LinkedIn groups frequented by senior IT managers. I asked, "If your staff could magically improve just one leadership skill overnight, which one would you most want them to improve?"

The question got a lively response from dozens of leaders over the next few days. Answers included prioritizing work, managing their time, delegating, managing employee performance, holding people accountable, and communicating.

While there were many different opinions shared on the what, the why and the how, the single most common response was the fundamental importance of effective communication skills for a leader. Related to that was the shared belief that so many of our leaders today do not possess strong enough communication skills.

The range of responses mapped pretty well to my experience coaching hundreds of IT leaders from entry levels up to the CIO level. The responses also reflected the universal importance and challenge of communicating well.

There are two powerful techniques that anyone can apply to significantly improve the way they communicate and the impact they achieve. For the best results with these techniques, I suggest picking one and apply it for a few weeks. See what works for you and what doesn't work for you. Do more of what is working, and analyze what you can do differently with what is not working.

Practice that technique until you are totally comfortable with it and it's consistently working for you. Then focus and work on the other one.

1. Don't Bury the Lead

Newspaper journalists (remember them from a long time ago...?) are taught in Journalism 101 the simple idea called "Don't Bury the Lead." In its basic form, it means start your message with your most important point, and keep coming back to it.

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