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Intentions vs Impact – How Communication Can Make or Break Your Management Success

Intentions vs Impact – How Communication Can Make or Break Your Management Success
ArticlePersonal DevelopmentLeadership

​As managers, we have to be conscious of what we say and how we say it. Effective communication is arguably the most fundamental key to a high-performing team, one which achieves their goals and drives business forward. But there are two sides to communication: let’s call them speaking and listening for now.

Speaking covers everything you as a manager choose to say, how you say it, when it’s delivered, and how you respond to others.

Listening is how everything you say is interpreted by your team. How they perceive the communication you’re offering. And, importantly, how they feel about it.

Which is where the question of intent vs impact comes in. You know what you’re trying to achieve – but were you able to deliver it in such a way that made your intentions clear? To ensure the same impact is felt across the team – as in, every person is now feeling the same way (engaged, motivated, etc) and driven toward that same goal?

Take the following sentence:

“These results aren’t good enough. What went wrong?”

It’s bold, it’s blunt; the intention is to problem solve and understand where the improvement needs to be made, sharpish. It’s a sentence which, when said aloud, is hopefully going to prompt action of some sort. But what impact did this sentence have on the team?

Some may take it in their stride and want to review things with you, taking time to analyse, understand, and create a plan to improve. On the other hand, another employee has immediately switched off, presuming that you as manager are taking no accountability; the blame is on the team. Your intention was to share ideas, work together to solve a problem – but the impact on some, maybe many individuals, could be demotivation and disengagement.

Communication in management is a funny one, because we’re often bound to doing everything at once. Manage each work style differently, pay attention to the individual; equally, find a way to communicate with the team at large which doesn’t alienate any one person, a cover-all, if you like.

No one said it would be easy.

So, how could we word the sentence above for a more inclusive overall feel, one which delivers your intentions AND has the desired impact?

How about,

“We know we can do better than this – where can we improve next time?”


“Here’s what I think about how we can improve – what other ideas can we come up with?”

These both denote accountability, inclusivity and ownership – as both an individual and a team. The intention is clear, and the impact should in most cases be a positive one – one which gets everyone working towards what you’re trying to achieve. You’ve communicated now that this is our problem – and we’ll solve it like the team we are.

All of this is particularly important when we’re managing new teams, or those with new hires amongst them. In high-trust relationships, where each party knows the other well, we learn to read between the lines of what’s actually being said or meant by comments or questions to find the real meaning. But, for the newer relationships, this can’t always be done. Directions, questions or otherwise may be misconstrued, and this alone is where the onboarding of new employees often falls down.

So, as a manager of people, how can you turn your intentions into the impact you’re after?

• Communicate clearly and openly, without pointing fingers or placing blame (or even hinting towards doing so).
• Cultivate a team-feel, rather than an “us and them”, manager vs employees atmosphere – get rid of those hierarchical barriers.
• Ask for feedback and encourage employees to speak up for clarification if they’re unsure on something, and to voice their opinions candidly, without fear of repercussions for doing so.
• Make sure that you fully understand your own intentions before heading into any communication with the team – if you’re unsure of what you’re after, they undoubtedly will be too.

Over time, as you build trust, communication across your team becomes easier. With that being said, you’ll want to know that your team is receptive to your management and communication style before you even make the hire – which is where we come in.

To talk workforce solutions and learn more about how we pre-qualify all this and more at interview stage, get in touch.

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