How to properly communicate with your subordinates?

How to behave as a manager with his subordinates, so that the work was effective

The ability to communicate with subordinates, to build the right communication – soft skills, important for every manager and manager. The manager must communicate with employees, he must find the right time for such communication and the right words to improve the performance of the employee. It seems to be simple. Indeed, called into the office, had a conversation. If necessary, praised, and sometimes expressed criticism – it is simple. But in fact everything is much more complicated.

Correct communication between the manager and the subordinate – why it is so important.

Ordinary employees often cite lack of communication with management as a major problem in their current jobs:

  1. “Every time the day starts, there’s yelling and criticism.”
  2. “Called out, gave a bonus for good work. Of course, the money is very useful, but I would like to get a few words of gratitude”.
  3. “The chief is not interested in my progress in any way. Gave me a task in Gira, I did it, and that was the end of it. Neither thank you, nor please. And I would like some kind of communication, a corporate spirit.”

You can come across such statements in absolutely any company. Money and an interesting job are good. However, communication is also a strong advantage in the fight for qualified personnel, so learning to communicate with your subordinates properly is a necessity.

How a manager should communicate with his subordinates

Speak the same language with staff

The views of the company by the manager and the subordinates are very different. Usually the manager sees only the goal and mission of the company, he does everything to achieve results. The employee is less interested in global goals, he has a plan and tries to fulfill it.

The manager should combine both visions and provide the employee with information about how specifically their actions help achieve the company’s mission and global goals.

Explain to the employee in simple terms what is going on in the company, if there are problems talk about it with a link to the fact that it is critical to carry out the plans. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes and think on their behalf how they see the situation.

This approach will help bring you closer to your subordinates and increase their involvement with the company.

Learn to ask the right questions and build dialogue

Asking the right questions helps to establish communication and clarify the company’s situation. And the right communication will allow:

  • correct the employee’s behavior at the right moment
  • Direct the employee to the development, help to get out of the crisis
  • thank the employee
  • set a clear goal
  • motivate him/her for further achievements

About questions by example:

Ask about specific things:

Bad Good
When will the report be ready? Will the report be ready by the 15th?
You don’t set a goal and let the employee decide for himself when he gets the report he wants. So you form a clear commitment that the report must be on the 15th.

Use close-ended questions:

Bad Good
How’s it going with the report? Did you make the report?
This is the wrong wording of the question, because in this case the employee may start a discussion about the work on the report and you will not get the answer you need in the end The question is closed, assuming a “yes” or “no” answer. You’re sure to get the answer you want, and depending on whether it’s positive or negative, you can extend the dialogue

Convince, not force

Sometimes the employee’s decisions don’t coincide with the manager’s vision. And, if that decision is wrong, you need to convince the subordinate that it is better to do otherwise. Coercion in this case works badly, because work is never built properly from under the stick, in ancient times even slaves worked worse under compulsion, but here we are talking about a free man.

Pay attention to the issue, find arguments that will help change the employee’s mind. If you achieve a change of position by persuasion, rather than coercion, the work will be done faster.

Give clear instructions

KPIs and goals for employees are invented for a reason, they allow for better performance. Form instructions properly.

Explain, but do not spoon it out.

It is important that the person understands what he wants and what the result of his work should be, but do not spell out the process. You hire a professional and he should know a priori what he gets paid for. So your tasks are:

  • set a task
  • specify what you want to get as a result
  • stipulate the main strategic points

The rest is up to the employee. He determines the methods of achieving the goal. If you have questions or need clarification, take your time, don’t leave the question unanswered, so you get better results.

Distinguish “doesn’t hear” from “doesn’t agree.”

An employee may refuse to complete a task or simply not do it. The reason here probably isn’t that you weren’t heard, but that the subordinate doesn’t find the task appropriate. Disagreement is normal. Listen to the arguments, perhaps you are missing something and your employee is right. If the arguments are logical and there is another solution, praise and allow the professional to solve the problem on their own. If both variants are disputable or the subordinate’s variant is weaker, insist on your own and remember – persuade, not force, use arguments.

Don’t demand as “of yourself”.

If you can cope with a task in 20 minutes, and it takes your employee hours, it doesn’t mean that he’s incompetent. Perhaps he is working with some service for the first time and he needs time to figure it out. Don’t point out his incompetence to him, it detracts from the work and interferes with the task. If the employee has just arrived at work, be patient, give him the opportunity to develop the necessary skills.


Do not be stingy with praise

Praise is a powerful motivator. If you use it correctly, you’ll get great results from your employees. The key here is to praise in the right way:

Express gratitude publicly. This way, the charge of positivity will be higher.

Speak from the heart.

Use praise in dosage, otherwise it will cease to motivate the staff. People tend to get used to and ignore nice things.

Praise in a timely manner. Task accomplished and done well? Tell about it now, then it will be too late.

Praise not only for the achieved global result, but also for intermediate successes. This approach will energize the employee.

Don’t forget to praise employees and they will respond to praise with higher productivity.

Explain your vision

Be open with your employees, show them what you want to accomplish. When you set goals, tell them why you are doing what you are doing and why you need to do it. This way your employees will understand the task more accurately and will be motivated to get the job done. Give your own the opportunity to move toward company goals with you, rather than catching up behind you. Teamwork will get things done faster.

Get feedback.

Avoid ambiguities in your work

Give your employees the right impression of the company and its current affairs. Avoid gaps in information. People tend to make things up and exaggerate negative things, so gaps will be filled with incorrect information and rumors. The higher your position in the company hierarchy, the more difficult it is to build communication with the personnel. Upper management rarely gets to the bottom of lower staff’s concerns. Give your employees the opportunity to notify management of their problems and clarify the current state of affairs. You can do this with a corporate e-mail account, or with a separate form for personnel questions on the company’s web site.

Do not punish for the mistakes of those who can learn from them.

Mistakes are normal, absolutely everyone makes them. But mistakes are different, and so is the attitude toward them. A successful person learns from them and no longer allows, the loser – continues to commit.

Try to create in your company an atmosphere in which employees can make mistakes and learn from them. Punishing mistakes is like telling a child who is learning to walk – don’t get up, you won’t make it anyway, don’t even try.

Mistakes are the norm, give your employees the opportunity to make them, and you will see rapid progress and growth of the company.

Avoid excessive emotionality

Excessive emotionality in the dialogue interferes with building rapport. In general, shouting is prohibited, no one hears each other in an elevated tone of voice and a dialogue in such a case is impossible to build. You, as the head, always act from the position of strength, no matter how you behave, the employee will tolerate, as he needs to keep the job. But such relations will not last long, and the constant shouting and humiliation of staff will lead to loss of respect and staff turnover.

The main errors of communication and how to avoid them

Mistake 1: imbalance in communication

This problem is often considered minor, but it is quite serious. The imbalance can be expressed in different ways: there may not be enough communication, or there may be too much. In the first case, the employees will think that they are guilty of something and you do not want to have a dialogue with them. In the second case, the manager just bothers the subordinates with constant control, here the message – “we are professionals, or who.

How to communicate with your subordinates to keep the right balance:

Approach each employee individually. Someone needs a lot of communication and control, someone is enough for a simple task setting and approval for its implementation.

HR-specialists distinguish several types of employees and recommend communicating with each in a different way:

1. Universal .

This is a specialist who is willing to take on not only his job, but also to help his neighbor. Such an employee is full of enthusiasm and always ready to act for the good of the company.

For him, encouragement and praise are crucial. Approve any achievements of such an employee and he will respond to you with high performance in his work.

2. Narcissistic

Selfishness and vanity are two terms that describe such an employee. With these disadvantages, such professionals are usually very good in their field. They understand that they are good and will demand to be treated accordingly.

In communicating with them, it is important to discuss all the smallest formalities; praise will work, but not as well as with a generalist. The whip hurts the narcissistic employee a lot, negativity causes a strong reluctance to work to spite the leadership and no matter what follows.

3. materialist.

For him specific tasks and results are important. The materialist’s work almost does not need control. And a goal achieved is itself a praise.

Set specific measurable goals, so the employee will work much more efficiently.

4. Moralist

This is an employee who does his job according to clear instructions. He likes order and respects the chain of command. Criticism for him is a difficult thing, he endures it hard. Such team members are particularly good at paperwork and all sorts of routine processes.

To motivate the moralist, you can ask for advice as an experienced professional. Informal communication for such employees is unacceptable.

5. Doubting

Uncertainty is the main problem of such a specialist. He needs to be constantly motivated and inspired. He aspires to the ideal, but does not obey the generally accepted standards and instructions.

Doubting employee needs constant praise and marks of his business qualities. He is highly dependent on the opinion of others.

Mistake 2: Incorrect communication style

It often happens that a manager who comes to a new company brings with him the communication style with the team from the old place. Also, the communication style breaks down when a senior manager appoints one of the team members to a leadership position.

In the first case, the team, not used to the management style of the new manager, may strike and break the work process. In the second, the former colleague remains on the same page, and this prevents the department from working as efficiently as it should.

How to communicate with subordinates and remain a leader:

To get the job done properly, before a change in leadership, find out:

  • What style of communication is now accepted in the team
  • How effective the management style is.

Different teams have different approaches, it is important to understand this. You may have to spend a lot of time to adapt to the new team.

What are the styles of personnel management:

  • Authoritarian – the manager himself makes all decisions and strictly controls the execution of tasks. With this style of personnel management, punishments are used as the main motivators. Initiative on the part of employees is suppressed.
  • Anarchic: the Head almost does not participate in the affairs of the company, passes the control to a lower level management, thus removing his responsibility for the results of the work.
  • Democratic – the leader gives the subordinates more freedom and the will to make decisions of secondary importance. All innovations in the company are discussed, every employee has the right to vote

To determine the correct method of personnel management, you must determine the composition of the team, identify the potential of each employee and identify leaders, give them the appropriate authority.

Mistake 3: poor or no feedback

This is one of the most common problems in Russian companies. As a rule, managers do not want or consider it necessary to give feedback, and subordinates are simply afraid to ask for it. As a result, there is no communication at all or it is one-sided.

How to properly communicate with your subordinates:
  • Respond to all of your employees’ requests. Feedback is necessary not only to eliminate mistakes, but also to motivate employees. Thank them for the work done, praise them for a good report
  • Create an opportunity for communication. The format of communication should be convenient for both parties. Allow employees to ask questions in an anonymous form to improve communication.
  • Analyze the requests of your subordinates, they often hide the company’s problems
  • Develop a culture of communication in the team. Set an example for your employees, don’t forget to answer their questions and engage in a dialogue

Well-established feedback allows you to quickly find problems and nip them in the bud.


Proper communication with employees is an important part of building a company’s performance. Monitor the effectiveness of the interaction between management and employees, recognize and eliminate mistakes in communication, and expand the number of communication tools. The more ways of interaction, the lower the risk of losing sight of the company’s problems.

The supervisor-subordinate relationship is considered the most difficult. In the process of working on them, many managers make global mistakes, losing the trust of employees. To return it is much more difficult than initially building the right relationship with subordinates.

The ideal manager: what is he like?

The relationship between subordinates and management is formed gradually. If in the established team comes a new manager, the stage begins familiarity, evaluation. Only after assuming the position, you need to lay the foundation of self-respect. This is difficult, but without compliance with the subordination “leader – subordinate” relationship will not be productive.

For this, the manager requires leadership qualities. Character traits that allow you to influence people without resorting to the use of official authority and pressure on the individual.

Leadership qualities are many:

  • strategic thinking;
  • strength of will;
  • honesty to his subordinates;
  • fairness;
  • ambitiousness;
  • vigor, physical endurance;
  • exactingness;
  • ability to present oneself as a leader;
  • ability to motivate;
  • ability to find a common language with people.

There are many secrets in how to communicate properly with subordinates. Managers who have been in high positions for several years develop their own strategies that increase the authority of the manager. And this is the main trait of a competent supervisor who deserves respect.

There are several styles of personnel management. They vary from country to country, and there are specific methods specific to a particular community, culture.

A manager can implement any management style on his own or be guided by the norms accepted in the organization. Changes are needed only if the previous management did not cope with the set tasks and the staff showed low productivity.

Authoritarian method of personnel management

The authoritarian management style is considered the most popular in large companies. It implies the absence of panibriety, friendly relations. In such teams corporate parties are rarely held, all interaction is reduced to the transfer of information between levels of subordinates and management.

In this case, the leader takes the main part of the responsibility, he rarely has deputies, although the place of the assistant is almost always occupied.

The authoritarian method is far from ideal.

Moreover, modern management is trying to move away from it, using more loyal and effective ways of management. The main disadvantage of this style is overbearing leadership, lack of loyalty. Motivation of staff takes place through punishments. The manager threatens to reduce wages, deprivation of bonuses, fines for failure to implement plans or even minor violations, rarely uses incentives.

Managers and subordinates under this management style rarely find common ground. Personnel are driven by fear, the attitude towards the manager is sharply negative.

This is not to say that the authoritarian management style is completely negative. In many cases, it helps to quickly get out of the crisis, to eliminate the effects of various disasters. But it should not be used permanently, otherwise the company’s productivity and staff performance will always be at a low level.

Democratic style of personnel management

This is a loyal method of personnel management, in which the manager only directs people. The manager is fully responsible for the tasks assigned. He competently distributes the work between the subordinates, advises and helps when necessary. With such a manager, employees want to develop, grow, go up the career ladder.

The atmosphere in the company is friendly, managers are welcome guests at corporate parties, birthday parties, Friday night get-togethers. They do not think how to build subordinates, and communicate as equals, but without panic.

The hallmark of the democratic method of management is a benevolent attitude of the manager. Bosses rarely make decisions independently, in most cases involving the team or employees responsible for the project in the discussion.

And this generates a disadvantage of this style – slow decision-making, in many cases erroneous, as the voting method is often used.

Another disadvantage of this management style is the lack of the necessary subordination. Subordinates and manager are often in a friendly relationship, which sometimes hinders the development of business, as properly built hierarchy in the company leads to a competent distribution of responsibilities. Efficiency may be low, personnel are forgiven many violations, there are no fines, penalties.

It is important to have a very fine sense of how to communicate with the staff, remaining a leader, so that this method of management is effective.

Tid Orduay, the famous American theorist of labor relations, wrote about the democratic style of management. In his book, “Leadership Theory,” he noted that friendship and affection in a team distinguish competent leadership. Over time, Thiede’s theory has been subjected to numerous criticisms, so it is no longer as popular in modern management, but democratic leaders are found.

Liberal style of personnel management

There is a little trick to such a task as leading subordinates – to be able to “turn off” the boss in you. This is what distinguishes the liberal style of personnel management.

The peculiarity of this method is that subordinates set their own tasks and perform them. Of course, there is control by the general manager, but employees manage their own time, generate reports, and do other work.

The liberal style suits companies with several top managers who also have other people in their subordination.

For example, the CEO sets one big task for the whole company. This is the development of the business, the promotion of the product with the ultimate goal of increasing profits and brand awareness. Then this large task is broken down into smaller tasks by a team of top managers. They think through methods, establish contacts, look for counterparties, and distribute work among departments. At the same time, they report to the CEO on the work done and get additions and adjustments.

The liberal style does not give preference to any one system of motivation, rewards or punishments. The team works with one common goal, upon achievement of which a good salary and bonus await all. This method is only suitable for a team of experts who know their job 100% and do it flawlessly.

Corporate coaching as a modern approach to human resource management

If you are looking for the way how to build relations with your subordinates, to make the collective united, aspiring to do the work qualitatively, then implement the corporate coaching in your management system.

This method has several distinctive features:

  • the manager becomes a teacher, mentor and supervisor in one person;
  • a special friendly attitude is formed in the team, which respects the chain of command;
  • a coach not only guides, but also teaches and motivates;
  • one of the tasks of leadership is to increase the self-esteem of the employees.

This establishes a special relationship between the supervisor and his subordinates. A coach is a mentor and a good psychologist. He is able to find an approach to everyone, helping the staff to overcome difficulties related to work and a place in the collective.

If a company practices this style of leadership, then a mandatory requirement when hiring a manager is the presence of a psychologist’s education or completed courses.

Among the disadvantages of corporate coaching stands out only the difficulty of its implementation. And it is not even so much a question of the manager’s ability to be on the same level as the staff, while retaining his status as a leader, as of the reluctance to accept psychological help. Many people are so closed that it is difficult to find an approach to them.

How to communicate with your subordinates: tips from psychologists and experienced managers

It is possible to become a good and successful manager, overcoming many of his ambitions. If it is not necessary to be a friend, then the successful manager is simply obliged to respect the personnel. But even this is not enough, you need to create your own model of behavior, based on the number of subordinates, the nature of people and the overall style of the company. The advice of psychologists and experienced managers will come to the rescue.

Give correct, clear instructions

You shouldn’t expect your subordinates to guess your thoughts. It is especially important to instruct newcomers, so that they don’t get confused and do their job correctly. Always explain to your staff what you want to end up with and help people achieve that goal. You don’t have to do the work for them, but mentoring is a must. Trained employees then start working on their own, doing it in a professional manner, making fewer mistakes.

When the employee moves into the experienced category, no more help will be needed, and you can trust him or her with complex tasks and projects.

Speak up

Managing subordinate employees involves not only giving correct instructions, but also proper criticism. Many managers rush from extreme to extreme – either humiliating a subordinate, pointing out his shortcomings, or hinting at mistakes.

Both are not appropriate for a successful leader.

It is important to call things by their proper names. And you have to do it all the time, not once a year to express to the employee accumulated grievances. The subordinate should know his weaknesses. Praise, as well as constructive criticism, are beneficial in personal development. Therefore, do not hint, speak evasively.

Set the rules and follow them

Rules and responsibilities of the staff are contained in the employment contract and job description. And it is important not just to have them, but to comply with them. There should be no exceptions. For example, if an employee comes in the morning late after a night out, he should be sanctioned. This rule applies to all staff, regardless of their position, regardless of the relationship with the leadership.

Motivate and inspire

Another important point in how a manager should communicate with a subordinate is employee motivation. Looking at corporate coaching as a personnel management style, you can see one characteristic of it. The manager must guide and inspire his staff. How he will do this depends on the work style, the age of the subordinates and other factors.

This can be joint corporate parties, trips to the cinema, small gifts for holidays. Mandatory meetings at which the manager should motivate the staff, talk about future prospects and how the company will thank everyone who contributed to its development.

Help, But Don’t Take Work Away.

Relationship with subordinates implies assistance in completing the task. The manager gives clear instructions, advises and guides workers. But at the same time does not take the work for himself. You need to teach the subordinate, even if it is difficult.

Don’t humiliate, don’t threaten

In how a supervisor communicates with subordinates, there is one important rule – you can’t get too personal. Only a weak person can insult and humiliate another. Any conflict must be able to resolve peacefully, and to point out mistakes – calmly.

Offended worker has a low performance, it is difficult to set him up to perform a difficult task. So learn to speak calmly, but demandingly. And most importantly, never, under any circumstances, resort to personalities or threats.

What to do if the subordinates do not listen

Before you build a relationship with your subordinates, you need to realize that they are ordinary people with their desires, principles and fears. This is not a dog, which should be trained, and your children are not obliged to obey your authority without question. There are corporate ethics, job descriptions and general rules of the company – this is the basis of what you need to rely on when working with staff.

And if your subordinates are reluctant to follow instructions or ignore them, you need to reconsider your attitude to them and your management tactics. Perhaps the wrong model of behavior is chosen, in which you are not perceived as a strong leader.

To build a healthy boss-subordinate relationship, you can use tried-and-true methods.

  • Talk, hold a meeting. If there is a rebel in the team, who sets the staff against the head, especially often violates the requirements of the manager, you need to talk to him personally. Penalize him for rude behavior, violation of corporate ethics, and fire him for systematic disregard of rules and requirements. And do not be afraid that the team will revolt: in most cases, when the conflicted people leave, everyone becomes calmer, including those who supported the rebel.
  • Ask for help from your supervisor. He should properly introduce you, indicating that you are trusted.
  • Listen to the staff. Sometimes the demands of the staff are fair and reasonable. If people refuse to perform a task, it may be from a lack of knowledge or experience in the industry. See if you are demanding too much.
  • Show your professionalism. Work to the best of your ability, set a good example for your subordinates. This brings respect and motivates you to develop.

It will take time to earn the trust of your subordinates. Do not require from the staff momentary execution of orders, give time to get used to you. And don’t pity those who purposefully harm the business by refusing to work and run errands.

How to Motivate Staff

Considering how to manage subordinates, the skills of an effective leader, it is important to talk about motivation. This is one of the most important and effective ways to set your staff up for work. Use what suits your management style.

Examples of motivational strategies:

  • Show each employee his or her importance in the company;
  • Pay one-time bonuses based on task completion or special achievements;
  • Praise them for their successes, tell them about their accomplishments at meetings;
  • Reward for intermediate results, which motivates to complete the work started.

There are two main types of motivation: material and non-material. The most common is material. If it is competently built, it increases the productivity of the work.

Material motivation can be in the form of:

  • bonus on sales volume, for completing a large task, certain bonuses;
  • Incentive bonuses for a healthy lifestyle, such as a non-smoking bonus;
  • payment of voluntary health insurance policies to enable free treatment in private clinics;
  • reimbursement of transportation and gasoline costs;
  • free vouchers to sanatoriums, resorts and children’s camps;
  • gifts from partners: dishes, textiles, clothes;
  • certificates to popular stores.

The main purpose of work is to get money, so the material motivation is the strongest and most effective. But intangible encouragement is also important, presented in the form of:

  • praise from a representative of the highest level of management;
  • putting it on the board of honor;
  • organization of joint recreation;
  • free training to advance your career.

If you don’t know how to build relationships with your subordinates, make a plan first. Include points of motivation and punishment, ways to resolve conflicts. Do not hope that everything will come by itself, with experience. If you do not initially earn authority and respect in the team, the good leader will not work.

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