How Manufacturing Leaders Can Communicate More Effectively

Posted By: Dave Ewers, Director of Content Development, Tooling U-SME on June 16, 2021

Manufacturing Leader Communicating Effectively

Over the past year, my team has noticed an increase in the demand for leadership training in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers wanted and needed actionable tips to help them lead more effectively. So, we found an expert in leadership training, Robin Storti, and partnered together to launch a four-part webinar series dedicated to leadership in manufacturing.

Today, I am sharing the highlights of our first webinar, “Leadership Communication Skills” which discussed how industry leaders can communicate more effectively by understanding different mindsets.

1. Identify Communication Barriers

“Most of us think, all I have to do is talk, and people will listen,” said Storti. “Or I wrote something in a text or email, and it should make sense to anyone who reads it. It would be great if it was that easy.”

But as Storti points out, it isn’t always that easy. Instead, there are numerous communication barriers, and many people communicate based on reaction instead of on purpose. “I know I’m guilty of it,” she said, adding, “What if we started communicating on purpose? This means you are communicating to get a result.”

First off, Storti said we need to recognize barriers in communication. “There are obvious barriers such as culture, gender, language, religion and politics, and then there are common barriers such as things we’re not always aware of — people’s wants, needs, desires and attitudes. Sometimes we don’t find those things out till later.”

2. Identify Their Preferred Method of Communication

Noting that there are many methods of communication, Storti advises you to first think about your favorite way to communicate. Do you prefer texting, email, phone calls, social media, in-person interaction, writing or instant messaging? Now think about the preferred communication method of the people you’re trying to communicate with. By using their favorite way to communicate, you’ll be more likely to get a result. “I have a 20-something-year-old son, and the only way he’ll respond to me is through texts,” said Storti. “If I call, he doesn’t answer the phone. If I want to talk to him, I know I have to text him.”

Communicating via your recipient’s preferred method is one way to communicate on purpose to get results. According to Storti, another method of purposeful communication is to be clear and straight — even if it’s bad news.

“People appreciate that,” she said. “I know sometimes the news likes to dramatize things, but it doesn’t really go that well in a work environment. You want to just be authentic.” But whatever the information is, Storti said you should present it in a kind and caring tone. “Even if you’re frustrated, you have to reach into your inner self and say, ‘OK, I can do this, I can be kind about this.’ Respect everyone, no matter what their position is.”

3. Listen

According to Storti, another important ingredient in purposeful communication is listening. “You can listen to advise, you can listen to convince, or you can listen to understand,” she said.

Listening to advise involves one of two scenarios, explains Storti: responding to a request for advice or dispensing advice even though you weren’t asked for it.

Listening to convince, on the other hand, occurs when you realize the person you’re in conversation with has a different opinion than yours. “As the conversation continues, you may determine that they may need to consider your opinion,” said Storti. “But you have to be careful about the way you present your case, because some people can get too antagonistic when they’re trying to convince someone, and it can lead to resentment — especially if you’re in a position of power.”

As a leader, one must listen a lot. “You must be willing to work to understand the needs and desires of others. A good leader asks many questions, considers all options and leads in the right direction.”

The third listening option — listening to understand — is best, said Storti. “You’re engaged and paying attention to what the person is actually saying, so you understand their needs and their opinions and observations,” she explained. “The fact that the listener is actually focused on listening can be very validating to someone who’s talking. After all, we all like to be listened to.”

Watch the webinar for more information on leadership communication skills and sign up for our entire Leadership In Manufacturing Webinar Series today.

Leadership Training In Manufacturing

Tooling U-SME creates effective online manufacturing training courses, as well as instructor-led training, dedicated to improving workforce development. If you are interested in learning more about or leadership classes, or any of our over 500 manufacturing related classes, click here.

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