12 Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating With Employees

Strong, clear communication is a must when it comes to manager-employee relationships, but certain behaviors can work against you.

Published on Jan. 13, 2022
12 Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating With Employees
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Headshots of contributing YEC members.
Top row, from left: Meeky Hwang, Jonathan Prichard, Tyler Quiel, Andrew Schrage. Middle row, from left: Maria Thimothy, Daisy Jing, Matthew Capala, Zane Stevens. Bottom row, from left: Morissa Schwartz, Blair Williams, Stephanie Wells, Syed Balkhi. 

Strong communication skills can help anyone thrive in a business environment, but when it comes to managing employees, they are absolutely essential. An effective communication strategy can help leaders optimize the flow of information within their organization and keep teams on track. 

Below, 12 Young Entrepreneur Council members shared some of the biggest communication mistakes managers make. Follow their advice for avoiding these common errors and setting up stronger lines of communication with your team. 

12 Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating With Employees

  1. Assuming others are on the same page.
  2. Not allowing for questions.
  3. Not taking responsibility.
  4. Overlooking honesty.
  5. Not showing a human side.
  6. Hearing instead of listening.
  7. Communicating across multiple platforms.
  8. Thinking communication only involves talking.
  9. Expecting employees to read minds.
  10. Failing to give feedback.
  11. Listening to react.
  12. Not being present.

More From YEC11 Ways Leaders Can Show Their Employees Gratitude


1. Assuming Others Are on the Same Page

You may encounter cases where someone might have missed emails, might not have been present when previous communication happened or where someone simply might not have understood the manager in the first place. Making sure the others are on the same page by simply asking them before moving forward resolves many potential issues. —Meeky Hwang, Ndevr, Inc.


2. Not Allowing for Questions

Don’t assume employees understand what you’re saying and asking them to do without confirming that they actually understand. Businesses could save a lot of time if managers allowed employees to ask questions without feeling like they’re incompetent. Managers should create an environment that encourages questions without judgment so employees can be as productive and happy as possible. —Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com


3. Not Taking Responsibility

If your goal is to have a successful team that gets things done right, you need to take more responsibility for everything. Avoid “you” statements and in favor of “we” and “us.” This practice will stop you from burdening specific employees and put the responsibility back where it should be — on the manager. When it’s time to make plans for company targets, get team members involved. —Tyler QuielGiggster


4. Overlooking Honesty

Sometimes the truth hurts, but you have to be transparent in order for your communications with your employees to be effective. You can always couch some of your tough comments with positive ones before and after, but it’s still important to be as honest as you possibly can be with your team. —Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance


5. Not Showing a Human Side

Some managers find being open and honest with their teams challenging. Remember that being a manager does not mean you always have the answers. It’s important to also show a human side to employees and admit when you are wrong or when you don’t quite know something. Pretending that you’re never wrong and that everyone should do as you say is not something employees appreciate. —Maria Thimothy, OneIMS


6. Hearing Instead of Listening

Managers tend to hear what their team has to say without really listening and understanding where they’re coming from. Bad managers want to communicate so they can send their message across rather than to understand the employee. This attitude results in miscommunication and resentment. No empathy is equal to bad communication. —Daisy Jing, Banish


7. Communicating Across Multiple Platforms

Communicating across platforms is a big mistake. File sharing mishaps, communication breakdowns, broken conversations — all these can happen when you are not keeping one channel on one platform. Be consistent in your channel and platform so nothing is lost and your team knows what to expect. Performance improves and there will be less confusion if you need to review communication. —Matthew Capala, Alphametic


8. Thinking Communication Only Involves Talking

Way too many times I see people thinking communication is all about talking, and they forget one key point of communicating: listening. If you do not listen, you may be solving a problem, but not the main problem. People need to learn to listen to be better communicators. —Zane Stevens, Protea Financial


9. Expecting Employees to Read Minds

Sometimes managers expect employees to be mind readers. Never assume. Give as much detail as possible and never discourage questions. Some things seem obvious to you if you’ve been doing something for a while but won’t be to others who do not share your experience. —Morissa Schwartz, Dr. Rissy’s Writing & Marketing


10. Failing to Give Feedback

Managers need to be proactive in giving feedback and appreciation to their employees. Don’t wait for the end of the year or quarter before talking to people. Check in on them as often as you can. You don’t need to set up a meeting or speak via a conferencing tool. Simply send a message asking people how they’re doing. Such intermittent communication will improve your work environment. —Blair Williams, MemberPress


11. Listening to React

A common mistake some managers make when communicating with employees is refusing to listen. Believe it or not, communication is more about listening and understanding than reacting or trying to say the right thing. Listen to your team so you can hear everyone’s thoughts and create a fair, welcoming environment. —Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms


12. Not Being Present

A major mistake that managers make is not responding to their employees quickly. If you want your employees to bring up issues and build a culture of sharing, then you need to be present to answer questions and help people. We have several Slack channels, and leaders in our business are active on them. Start by setting up communication tools where it’s easy to chat, and you’ll see better communication. —Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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