Business owners sometimes struggle to communicate effectively with their direct reports. If you are fully engaged when communicating with direct reports, the information you receive will be better and clearer. Being fully engaged means giving the direct report space and time to communicate with you. Do not rush reports

It is very important when having a conversation with a direct report to make the time to listen, and if you are too pressed for time, reschedule. Part of your job as a leader is to have perspective and if that perspective is compromised because you are too busy then you cannot create a safe environment in which valuable information will flow.

When meeting with direct reports, make sure to have an outcome in mind. As you engage that direct report, know what you want to get accomplished for the communication. Often people waste time not knowing why they are meeting. Before engaging someone in a conversation set the expectations –

How long is this conversation going to last?
What does a successful conversation look like when done?
When the conversation is over, what things would I want to know, or be able to have worked on for us to feel like this was successful?

If you can set some of those expectations ahead of time, it will provide focus and efficiency to communication.

Recognize that direct reports represent your capacity to be intelligent in your organization; it is your responsibility to them and the organization to listen effectively and communicate intelligently. Actively suspend the assumption that you know everything and listen to them without interrupting. Even if they say things that are controversial or anger you, your job is to take in information and respond intelligently – which often involves a lot of controlled breathing. Listen actively, suspend your own thoughts and reactions to the information and let them express themselves. This will be vastly powerful. By doing this you will learn things about your business that you would not have learned from your perspective as a boss. As a leader you can create an environment where it is safe for information to flow.

Part of our responsibility as entrepreneurial leaders is to provide context and to make the direct report feel validated for having shared with you. For example, if an employee speaks to you about a customer issue, instead of getting upset about how the issue was handled (if you disagree with the method of resolution), show the employee that he or she was correct to have brought the situation to your attention and by being informed you can work together to get the issues (now and in the future) resolved. By doing this, the employee feels empowered to take care of things on their own and will take care of more problems on their own in the future.

Communicating effectively with direct reports will require you to create the space for them to feel comfortable speak to you, to pay attention and listen, engage them positively, provide feedback and fulfill all the expectations set forth in the beginning of the conversation. They will walk away with a sense of completeness and wholeness, and you walk away with a sense of completeness and wholeness. Your direct reports will want to come back to you to share really great information that allows you to have even more intelligent interaction with your business.

Author's Bio: 

Hugh Stewart is a business coach with extensive experience in a variety of industries. Having created and operated 17 businesses within the last 10 years generating over $100+ Million in revenues in industries such as money services, real estate, advertising, insurance consulting, and coaching. He was able to take one of his businesses from $7 million a year in revenue to $44 million a year in revenue; all with only 13 employees while he only worked 10-12 hours a week.

Hugh now leverages his vast business knowledge with his primary business, as the Founder of Confident Solutions Coach, a company helping Business Owners & Entrepreneurs find more free time in their lives by recognizing opportunities to systematize, automate, and delegate their work so they can focus on what they truly love to do and what they do well. By helping clients identify their ultimate goals and itemizing the obstacles towards that achievement, we are able to strategically create an action plan that Transforms Businesses and Transforms Lives.