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Communication is not just a core leadership skill; it is also an essential ingredient for leadership success. Effective communication includes speaking, writing, listening, and ensuring congruency between your words and actions so that body language does not send an unintended message to your audience. All leaders speak multiple times each day, so it's crucial that your message, information, thoughts, and ideas are transmitted in a way that is understood by all listeners and that information is communicated in a caring and honest way. It is important to communicate with listeners in a way that achieves the desired outcome that is, to educate, acknowledge, motivate, or persuade the listeners.


In today's organizational environment, writing e-mails, presentations, reports, and correspondence to employees, customers, or administrative leadership is a key expectation. All successful writing relies on your ability to understand your audience, being clear in the message you wish to convey and thinking carefully about what information to provide and how best to structure it so that it is easy to understand and solicits the response you are seeking. Many people in today's technology-centered and fast-paced environment rely heavily on e-mail and text messaging to communicate with others. While these skills are certainly valuable tools for leaders in facilities management, leaders should be wary of using these means as dominant communication modalities. There is absolutely no substitute for the personal phone call or face-to-face interactions with your customers, employees, or leadership. Thus, use e-mail and text messaging judiciously to augment your personal communication style rather than as a substitute for personal interaction because you are too busy or because you want to avoid personal interactions or difficult topics or conversations.

Listening Skills

Listening is the most important of all leadership skills. As a facilities leader you need to get out with your people and your customers and listen to their complaints and suggestions so that corrective action can be taken. As an active listener you're giving a gift of your time and attention to another person. Focus on responding verbally and nonverbally to the people who are speaking so they know you are listening and understanding what they are intending to communicate. By asking probing questions and restating what you have heard, you are conveying a genuine interest and understanding in what is being communicated.

Many employees in a workplace with declining morale say that all they want is for someone to listen to them. They ask, why try to be creative or to make improvements for the sake of productivity, cost reduction, or quality if no one listens? Why make an effort if they don't care what I think? In other words, employees will become frustrated if leaders want them to leave their brain at the door. This is why being present to your employees so you can listen to their concerns and respond to their questions is absolutely essential to your organization's service delivery success and to your effectiveness as that organization's leader.

Employee Feedback

Employee surveys can provide important feedback and give employees an opportunity to voice concerns about leadership. At times, however, the survey instrument may not provide adequate specifics to act on that feedback. Focus groups within the organization allow employees to explain why they feel the way they do about each of the survey topics. Listen to what employees say and ask for clarity or examples as they speak about specific situations or personal experiences. Employees can be amazingly candid and vocal in this process.

It would be helpful to have someone take notes and record comments so the facilities manager can stay present to the employees and be an active listener. When you are finished with the focus groups, you can categorize the comments into theme areas. Follow up on these themes during employee meetings and ask employees whether you heard their concerns. This process should provide overwhelming agreement and validation with the results. Be sure to keep employees informed about the progress you continue to make.

Body Language

Have you ever been in a situation where you didn't believe what someone was saying? In other words, you had a sense that something didn't ring true or your gut was telling you that something was off. Body language is an essential ingredient in effective communication, and it's crucial that leaders understand that they cannot send mixed messages that is, saying one thing while nonverbal body language conveys something different.

Keep in mind that each person is unique and their signs or signals may have a different underlying cause than the ones you suspect. This is particularly true where people have had different life experiences or where there are cultural differences. This is why it's important to ask questions to ensure your interpretation of someone else's body language is accurate and what they intended to communicate.

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