Let’s Talk About Manager Communications

 In Comms Heroes

The ROI Communication Benchmark Report™  measures the impact of employee communication at large companies. The bottom line is the actual the bottom line – financial performance definitely correlates with the quality of communication. The 2017 ROI Communication Benchmark Report offers up some new insights for the new year, honing in on the types of employee communication that really impact a company’s financial health and growth. In this series, I’m going to talk about a few of their key findings, starting with something that often times gets forgotten: manager communications.

One of the most powerful predictors of increased financial performance— including net income, revenue, total return to investors, and diluted earnings per share—is what this report has termed Manager Communication Effectiveness.

So: what exactly is Manager Communication Effectiveness?

In short, it’s a comprehensive measurement of communication-related factors. To make sure we’re all on the same page, I’ll break the definition of Manager Communication Effectiveness down for you, and then look at the report’s roadmap to increase the effectiveness of manager communications (and enhancing financial performance).

Effective communication at the managerial level begins with the basics: with managers fully understanding the various responsibilities that come with communication roles. Manager Communications Effectiveness also takes into account managers’ credibility and how effectively they explain company issues and events. Also factored in are the way they give and receive feedback, solicit opinions and ideas, and provide recognition and appreciation.

The report provides some fascinating findings about the state of Manager Communications Effectiveness in 2017.

Managers are doing a better job providing feedback

The good news: the culture of feedback is improving. Managerial feedback regarding employee performance is on the upswing: in 2017, companies saw their score increase to 57%, up 9 points from 2015. And companies who completed the ROI Communication Benchmark Report™ survey in both 2015 and 2017 saw an even more dramatic uptick: up 21 points to 76%.

This growing culture of feedback has the definite potential to drive financial health and growth. As managers provide more recognition and appreciation, they, in turn, create a more trusting work environment. And better trust and engagement means increased financial performance. (I’ll get into that more in my next post.)

But there’s still room for improvement when it comes to managerial communication.

Training, effectiveness, and credibility are still lagging

Only 27% of companies who completed the survey provide managers with communication training. This is less than ideal, since one of the key factors of Manager Communications Effectiveness, as I discussed above, is managers’ understanding of their roles as communicators.

The future of Manager Communications Effectiveness is challenging in other respects. When asked to score managers as credible sources of information, respondents in 2017 reported a mere 68%, a marked decreased from 81% in 2015. The scores for companies that completed the survey in both 2015 and 2017 saw a less significant decrease, from 85% to 75%.

When it came time to rate communication effectiveness, just half of respondents in 2017 reported favorably. This is a scant improvement from the 49% manager communication effectiveness score awarded by respondents in 2015.

There’s a silver lining when it comes to the communication effectiveness scores, though: companies who completed the survey twice saw effectiveness increase from 53% in 2015 to 61% in 2017. While we should still consider that 39% of non-favorable responses a missed opportunity, the fact remains that repeat survey-takers saw an increase of 8 points, versus the 1 point of first-time survey respondents. Perhaps the fact that repeat survey-takers have been engaged in thinking about and improving Manager Communication Effectiveness for at least two years means that they’re now reaping the rewards of an improved communications culture.

The forecast for Manager Communications Effectiveness doesn’t have to be gloomy. Armed with these findings, companies can equip their managers with the toolbox required to become more effective, credible, and thoughtful communicators.

To learn more about improving middle manager communication in a digital world, watch this on-demand webinar recording.

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