A crucial factor in your success as a leader is how you communicate with your team.
Communication is about exchanging information, whether that means brainstorming as a group, delegating responsibilities, setting expectations or alerting others to a problem.
Your messages’ completeness, accuracy, timing and form will affect how your plans are carried out.
Beyond that, how you communicate can play a massive role in your team’s morale. How you treat your employees will affect how they respect you, respect one another and, ultimately, perform on the job.
So, what makes successful leaders so good at communication? Look at the top communicators around you (and those in a bigger spotlight), and you’ll see the following practices:
1. Choose your channels carefully.
Sending out a mass text or voice message to notify your team about a last-minute meeting change might be appropriate, but that format would be far from ideal for detailing the scope of a new project.
Similarly, email isn’t the best way to start a long conversation, especially about a sensitive subject. Learn to read the situation and decide on the appropriate channel.
2. Consider your tone and direction.
This is especially important when speaking to someone face to face. When delivering messages, remember your objective and how you might come across. For example, if an employee has done subpar work or missed a deadline, you want that person to improve so the problem doesn’t happen again; you don’t merely want that employee to feel guilty about the error.
Frame your wording to achieve this goal; instead of scolding or reprimanding, use a friendlier tone with a corrective direction. You’ll accomplish far more, make your intentions clear and preserve morale.
3. Be concise.
Get to the point; you’ll save employees’ time and your own. Grammarly has a fantastic article on the topic.
4. Keep your messaging decisive and focused.
When writing or enunciating your message, avoid rambling or working through a problem in your text or discourse. Speak only when you have something meaningful to say, and make sure your point is clear. A service like Evernote can help you organize your thoughts, tasks and goals.
5. Be proactive.
Disclosing new project requirements to someone is ineffective if that person is halfway through the job. Set expectations long before actions are taken; when something comes up, tell your team right away.
Set alerts on your phone, and use calendar apps, especially for things like follow-ups.
6. Make time for conversations.
This is important for building morale. You can’t be available all the time, but your team should feel comfortable communicating with you. Show patience and appreciation for their thoughts and opinions, and they’ll willingly share with you when they have a problem, need help or see a way to make an improvement.
7. Listen actively to every team member.
Their range of opinions will open you up to new ideas and help you see flaws and inconsistencies. Do this early and often to build trust.
With practice and dedication, you can become a more communicative and respectable leader.
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.