Communication Skills for Excellent Managers

Samantha Taylor
Post by Samantha Taylor
Originally published April 22, 2024, updated April 23, 2024
Communication Skills for Excellent Managers

Good communication is the lifeblood of any successful team, and for managers, it is the essential skill that underpins all their work. Strong communication can inspire trust, increase efficiency, and foster a positive work environment. Managers who communicate well are more effective leaders, capable of driving their teams toward ambitious goals.

In this blog post, we will explore the significance of communication in managerial roles, break down the essential communication skills for any effective manager, learn about the consequences of poor communication, and provide actionable strategies to enhance these skills.

Why Managers Need to Communicate Effectively

Communication is the medium through which managers create alignment, provide clarity, and motivate their teams. It allows leaders to share the company vision, convey expectations, and give feedback. Effective communication is essential for problem-solving, conflict resolution, and managing change within the organization. When managers communicate poorly, misunderstandings can lead to lowered morale, decreased productivity, and increased turnover.

Understanding communication's vital role in effective leadership is the first step toward improving these skills. A lack of focus on communication can undermine even the best-laid management plans.

Types of Communication

Managers engage in various forms of communication, each with its nuances and challenges. Broadly, we can categorize communication into three types:

  • Verbal Communication:
    This includes face-to-face conversations and virtual meetings. Verbal communication relies on spoken language to convey messages, share information, and engage in discussions. This includes using active listening skills and in-person meetings.
  • Written Communication:
    Letters, emails, reports, and even formal documentation fall under this category. Written communication has the added benefit of creating a record of the conversation. Written communication can also be informal, including Slack or Teams messages, texting, or casual emails. Writing is critical with the rise of asynchronous communication.
  • Nonverbal Communication:
    A significant proportion of our communication is nonverbal, from our body language to tone of voice or facial expressions. Managers must be attuned to these cues to understand and convey the complete message. Nonverbal communication is a challenge for managers working with remote employees since there are fewer cues to observe.
Each type of communication has strengths and weaknesses, and managers must understand when and how to deploy each effectively. When only one type of communication is available, being an effective communicator is critical.

Write actual work documents and get instructor feedback.

Learn More

The Six Most Important Communication Skills for Managers

Focusing on written communication skills, especially those pertinent to digital workplaces, is crucial for modern managers. Here's a rundown of the most vital skill set managers should strive to develop.

1. Active Listening

Active listening is about fully understanding what's said and the emotions supporting the message. In written communication, it's not just about skimming through emails or memos but also about taking the time to understand the message's context, tone, and potential implications. Managers who actively listen show respect, foster a supportive environment, and gain critical insights from their entire team.

2. Clarity

Being clear in your communication means conveying the message in a way that is easily understood. Managers who master clarity can ensure tasks are completed correctly and minimize the need for repeated instructions. It's the difference between "Complete the report by Friday" and "Could you try to finish it by the end of the week if possible?"

Clarity also eliminates ambiguity, making it easier for team members to prioritize their tasks and focus their efforts where they're most needed. Furthermore, it helps establish a culture of efficiency and accountability, as clear directives leave little room for misinterpretation and ensure everyone is aligned with the team's goals and objectives.

3. Empathy

Being a manager requires providing feedback, which requires empathy. Constructive feedback like performance reviews and other difficult conversations should be specific, timely, and focused on behaviors rather than personal characteristics. This approach helps employees understand what they are doing well and where to improve without feeling attacked or demotivated.

Related: How to Deliver Bad News in Business Writing

4. Transparency

Transparent communication builds trust by sharing information openly and honestly. Managers who practice transparency create an environment of mutual respect and confidence.

In a world where information is king, transparency is not just about honesty. It's about keeping your team in the loop. Managers who practice transparency in their communication help demystify decision-making processes and empower their employees by giving them the context needed to understand their roles within the larger mission.

5. Assertiveness

Assertive managers can communicate their needs and expectations clearly while also respecting those of others. They can make hard decisions, provide constructive feedback, and maintain respect in their teams.

Assertiveness in communication ensures that a manager's decisions are respected and followed through on. Additionally, assertive communication fosters a positive and productive work environment, which is essential for achieving business objectives and maintaining high team morale.

6. Timeliness

Timeliness in communication ensures that the right information reaches the right people at the right time. It is crucial to keep projects on track and maintain a responsive, agile mindset within the team.

Communicating promptly also signals respect for others' time and contributions. It aids in avoiding unnecessary stress and helps manage expectations by keeping everyone aligned with the project timelines and objectives.

Being available is also an aspect of timeliness that managers should consider. With the increase of remote working, managers must actively demonstrate their availability through various communication channels. Whether it's being physically present in the office, picking up the phone for a quick hello, or staying connected digitally through email or messaging platforms, showing employees that you are accessible whenever they need you helps build a stronger rapport and creates a more collaborative work environment where employees feel supported.

And, this list is not all-inclusive. An excellent, well-rounded manager requires many complex skills at different levels.

The Consequences of Poor Communication

When managers fail to communicate effectively, the repercussions can significantly hinder a team's dynamics and an organization's success. Poor communication can manifest as ambiguous instructions, delayed feedback, or a lack of engagement with team members, leading to confusion, errors, and inefficiencies. Such shortcomings can result in missed deadlines, wasted resources, and a general atmosphere of frustration among the team.

Here are the most common consequences of poor managerial communication:

  • Misunderstandings: Unclear communication can lead to misunderstandings that result in mistakes or missed deadlines.
  • Low Morale: Employees who feel ignored or misunderstood due to poor communication may experience decreased morale.
  • Lack of Trust: When managers are not transparent or empathetic in their communication, trust between them and their employees erodes.
  • Decreased Productivity: Inefficient communication practices can slow workflow processes and hinder productivity.

In essence, the success of any organization is closely tied to the quality of its communication. Without concerted efforts to enhance these skills, the organization risks enduring the far-reaching adverse effects of miscommunication.

How to Improve Managerial Communication Skills

Developing and honing these skills does not happen overnight. It takes practice and a willingness to learn. Here are some strategies for managers to enhance their communication skills:

Practice Active Listening

Practice active listening during meetings and one-on-one conversations. Focus intently on the speaker, avoiding distraction to fully absorb what is being said. Ask open-ended questions to encourage further explanation and show genuine interest in their perspective.

Take the time to read messages thoroughly, potentially even out loud, to ensure you grasp the full context and nuances intended by the sender. Respond with thoughtful feedback that reflects an understanding of the message, indicating that you value the communication and wish to engage constructively. This is especially important in sensitive or hard conversations where clarity and empathy are essential.


Meet one-on-one with an instructor to review your actual managerial documents together.

Learn More

Seek and Implement Feedback

Initiating a systematic approach to feedback collection can significantly enhance this strategy's effectiveness. Managers can set up regular one-on-one meetings, anonymous feedback systems, or digital platforms that allow team members to share their insights comfortably and candidly.

This consistent and open dialogue provides valuable perspectives on your communication approach and fosters a culture of trust and respect within the team. It signals to your team members that their opinions are valued and their management is committed to personal and collective improvement. 

Business Writing Course

Consider enrolling in a business writing course. This can help you convey your message faster and more effectively, a skill increasingly important in the digital age.

By improving written communication skills, you can enhance clarity, professionalism, and impact in your emails, reports, and other documents. Additionally, learning how to tailor your writing style to different audiences and purposes can help you achieve better outcomes in your interactions.

Study Communication Styles

Understanding the diverse spectrum of communication styles not only enriches a manager's skill set but also fosters a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment. By recognizing and adapting to the varied ways team members express and receive information, leaders can ensure that their messages are heard and truly understood.

Find Tools That Work

Use technology tools like project management software to streamline communications within your team. This can drastically enhance the efficiency and clarity of team interactions.

These digital platforms offer centralized spaces for real-time sharing of updates, feedback, and questions, mitigating the risks of miscommunication. It also gives managers an eagle-eye view of projects, allowing them to stay involved and communicate with everyone on the team. Furthermore, the ability to track conversations and progress ensures that everyone is on the same page, promoting a unified approach to achieving team goals.


Effective communication is the foundation of successful managers. By honing your communication skills, you can build better relationships with your team, foster a positive work environment, and ultimately drive better results. Active listening, seeking feedback, investing in training, understanding communication styles, and utilizing technology tools are all key strategies for becoming an exceptional communicator as a manager.

By consistently practicing these techniques and staying committed to improving, you can become a more effective and influential leader.


Samantha Taylor
Post by Samantha Taylor
Originally published April 22, 2024, updated April 23, 2024
Sam is an experienced client care and operations manager who enjoys making other people's lives easier. She supports all client logistics of our business writing training.