7 sins bosses commit — and 7 ways to avoid them

Communication is an important determinant of an executive's success — just as much as more business-specific skills, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Specifically, 91 percent of employees say communication issues can lower an executive's standing, according an online Interact/Harris Poll with roughly 1,000 U.S. workers.

Respondents said the communication issues that impair effective leadership are as follows:

  • Not recognizing employee achievements — reported by 63 percent of respondents
  • Not giving clear directions — 57 percent
  • Not having time to meet with employees — 52 percent
  • Refusing to talk to subordinates — 51 percent
  • Taking credit for others' ideas — 47 percent
  • Not offering constructive criticism — 39 percent
  • Not knowing employees' names — 36 percent
  • Refusing to talk to people on the phone/in person — 34 percent
  • Not asking about employees' lives outside of work — 23 percent

These findings show many leaders are not engaging in opportunities that could help their employees see them as trustworthy and interested in them. Effective leaders understand that developing strong communication with employees requires clear directions, meaningful feedback and interactions. The Harvard Business Review outlines seven tips for leaders to improve communication.

1. Give specific praise. "Great job" and "nice work" don't satisfy people who pour their heart into their jobs. Instead, give more specific compliments to show employees you notice their unique contributions.

2. Give personal and public thank yous. In addition to giving praise, it is important for leaders to thank their employees for their efforts. Elevator rides, walking out to the parking lot together or grabbing lunch are great opportunities to thank employees in a personal way, while saying thank you in meetings monthly or quarterly newsletters is also meaningful.

3. Ask employees what they think. Leaders should proactively ask their employees for their opinions and ideas on how the organization could improve, as well as on identifying potential issues or roadblocks to success. In contrast, employees will withhold their best ideas from leaders who presume to always have the right answer or take credit for others' ideas, according to the Harvard Business Review.

4. Be transparent. In any industry, companies are almost always in a constant state of change. Unfortunately, important information is often withheld from employees until the last minute, which can cause them concern and anxiety. According to the Harvard Business Review, leaders will gain more respect from their team if they share as much information as possible as soon as they can.

5. Give continual feedback. Annual performance reviews are important, but the best leaders give their team members feedback on an ongoing basis. According to the Harvard Business Review, millennials in particular want more coaching and feedback that previous generations.

6. Show that you're human. Employees look to their leaders to have the answers to the hard questions, but they don't expect perfection. Leaders who can admit when they're wrong or made mistakes, and furthermore, who can laugh at themselves and share with others what they've learned from these missteps, will gain the respect of their employees.

7. Address your employees by name. Calling people by their name shows them you are giving them your attention, and are also connecting with them on an individual basis. According to the Harvard Business Review, if a company is too big for the leader to know everyone's name, he or she should start by getting to know those in close proximity.

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