Communication is your team’s competitive advantage

Communication done well will drive innovation and revenue, while capturing market share. Done poorly, you and your team will be looking for new jobs sooner rather than later.

Despite its importance, communicating well is actually more difficult than it would seem. For those in leadership and management positions, the task is even more complex. Leaders must communicate up and downstream as well as to groups and to individual employees.

Before exploring manager communication strategies, it is insightful to directly hear from employees. The chart below shows the results from a survey of employees and indicates the biggest frustrations they have with leaders’ communications:

communication chart

The recurring theme in the Harris/Interact employee survey is the lack of clear, consistent, caring, and constructive communication. If you’re a business executive, it’s not enough to simply spur managers and leaders to just ‘communicate more.’ Adding communication volume, in fact, is not the solution.

The challenge is that leaders are not sure how often and in what ways to effectively communicate with their teams. By default, they fall back on known tactics with less than optimal results. For those in leadership and management, spending more time at a desk working on spreadsheets is only a fraction of what is required to be a great leader.

Communication is your team’s competitive advantage. Let’s define how you can leverage your greatest competitive asset.

‘Tell To’ vs ‘Talk With’

When communicating with your team, how often are you ‘Telling To’ vs ‘Talking With’?

If you’re not sure, take a look at this list of examples to understand this communication nuance.

Tell to:

  • Produce a set amount of products to meet output quotas
  • Meet specific quality assurance and compliance policies
  • Work on specific projects and meet assigned deadlines
  • Follow company guidelines for work schedules and overtime requirements
  • Complete required training and return necessary personnel documents to Human Resources
  • Attend company-wide meetings to learn about events, milestones, and performance

Talk with:

  • Ask how work is going and if the work is enjoyable, rewarding, and challenging
  • Ask what could be done to make work outputs more reliable
  • Ask what equipment, training, or resources could be provided to make the job easier
  • Ask about goals and dreams an employee has for his/her career
  • Ask what the most frustrating thing(s) are about the work, location, or company
  • Ask what an employee would do if (s)he could take over and do your job

See the immediate difference between ‘telling to’ vs ‘talking with’?

‘Telling to’ is about the one-way distribution of information. ‘Talking with’ is about asking and inviting a two-way conversation. To be clear, both methods of team communication are required for organizational and team health; yet, many in leadership default toward just one method.

Scroll back up and look at the list of negative communication issues. See the pattern?

Average leaders inform and provide the guidance required to perform the job.


Great leaders know that they can’t stop at ‘telling to’. Inspiring and informing the team is a necessity, but the competitive communication advantage of great leaders is talking with their teams often for the benefit of both the company and the individual.

#TEAMworks empowers every layer of leadership within your organization. Great teams work because they communicate well, are equipped to perform at the highest level, are repeatedly acknowledged for their efforts, and unashamedly measured to achieve peak performance.

#TEAMworks | Talk, Equip, Acknowledge, Measure

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