Current challenge: managing a team on your instant messenger app. Oof.
You want to be a good boss. A nice person. Still, between watercooler-style chats and cat gifs, you’re starting to wonder: is work actually happening?
Before wading in, study these tactics to refine those interpersonal relationship skills, lead by example and use IM for good.
1. Be clear about your availability
Establish a reply-time within your team. As a manager, be available to answer questions during office hours. Don’t be the bottleneck. If you can’t reply properly right away, give an indication of when you will be able to answer.
2. Respect out of hours messaging
Is it the weekend? Save your message for Monday. If you set up an expectation to reply out of hours, you risk reducing employee well-being over time. Where you have to send a message, if possible, say you don’t expect a response right away.
3. Avoid spamming channels …
Be engaged on IM, but don’t overuse it. Otherwise, the really important messages you want to communicate will get lost among the rest.
4. … but also say everything twice
That said, research has found that to get their message across, effective managers say the same thing twice. They use different channels (IM, email, meetings) to repeat themselves so employees are more likely to take in what’s being communicated.
5. Use private messages to bypass “naming and shaming”
Where a team member is not performing well, avoid drawing attention to the fact in a public forum. Instead, message them privately to set up a meeting.
6. Try not to police casual chit-chat
7. Embrace “non-verbal” communication
Remember that oof at the beginning? According to this study on e-leadership, that was an example of text-based, non-verbal communication. By using this emotive or casual language on IM to take the place of in-person mannerisms, you set the right tone for real collaboration. Yes, it’s scientifically recommended to LOL!
8. Don’t become (just) the bearer of bad news
If you only turn up to post about poor sales figures, then your team may become disengaged both with you as a leader and the IM app itself. Aim to frame difficult news in a way that invites feedback and ideas for future improvements.
And, of course:
9. Share good news and milestones
Use instant messaging to share big news, such as closing a new deal or announcing bonuses. That way, people will actually want to pay attention to the app. It’s a great place to wish your employees a happy birthday, too!
10. And, like any good boss, celebrate success
People thrive on positive reinforcement. Validate achievements with fanfare and let the team’s emoji responses pile in. 🎉🍾🙌😁👏
Studies show good management communication with staff significantly improves employees’ mental health and therefore, productivity. And – more than competence – warmth is the best indicator of good leadership. Warmth creates trust and the ability to influence a team.
So, be a good boss. Use your instant messaging app to build those all-important connections, one cat gif at a time.
Are you trying to decide if instant messaging is right for your business? Click below to download our guide: