Yesterday I took the Episode 3 of my new Instagram Live programme Strictly Administration with Nancy, where I spoke on the Administrator and Communication Skills. Because the videos cannot be saved for more than 24 hours, I decided this topic was so important that I needed to just follow up on it.
Here goes …
Communication is actually one of those skills regarded as critical for administrators. As an administrator, you definitely cannot perform well without developing sound communication skills. Therefore, you MUST (note the emphasis!) develop very good to excellent communication skills if you’d like to make any level of success in any administrative or management position. This is not to say communication skills are not important in other job positions, but it’s absolutely important for an administrator.
When you remember that virtually everything you’ll do successfully as an administrator involves some form of communication or the other, it will make you realise how important this skill is, in the life and job of an administrator. You’ll begin to see all the things that could possibly go wrong when there is poor communication or miscommunication in your organisation, and even in your personal life. You know, how you do one thing is how you do everything else. So, I must state that if you’re communicating poorly at work, then most likely, you’re also doing this in your personal life; and it must really be affecting you and keeping you from achieving the results that are desirable.
In simple clear, everyday English: you need to develop your communication skills as an administrator.
You get to interact with far too many people at too many levels to be contented with mediocre communication skills or be unbothered about improving on what you currently have.
Your communication skills will come in handy in practically every aspect of your job as an administrator.
To relate effectively with your superiors, colleagues, subordinates and external stakeholders, you need to communicate properly. Whether you are writing a proposal, a memo, a job description or contract for a new hire, you need good communication skills to do this effectively. Even a letter of termination for an employee who has been constantly misbehaving and not heeding to all the warnings and consequences, needs to be written properly.
Meetings will certainly not go smoothly without proper communication. There has to be communication to even summon a meeting in the first place. I really can’t think of anything you’d do well as an administrator without effective communication. Communication is the life blood of a business and must be taken seriously.
And I mean seriously!
In the last couple of weeks, I recall receiving several e-mails with no titles, proper punctuation or signatures. And this got me thinking.
Who does that?
What was I supposed to make out of those mails?
You are not exempt from proper writing even in emails. I think it’s even worse, because these are not slow letters which you can easily tear and trash. They are there with the recipient for as long as they would like to keep it, and you do not want this when the mail is laden with all sorts of grammatical errors and typos.
Nothing puts off prospects like poorly written letters. People are busy enough and our attention span is reducing by the day courtesy of our internet habits, so very few people have the patience left to make out what exactly you’re trying to say. Check your grammar, spellings, punctuation and the words that you use. Remember there is a register of words for every type of interaction and communication. For example, if you are drafting a contract or a letter of employment, there are certain words which you are expected to use. A lot of times, a wrong word or poor punctuation can alter the whole meaning of what you intended to say.
In all that you do, please avoid using big words in your communication just to sound important. If there is a smaller and simpler word and it passes the meaning across, I beg you that you always choose the simpler one. Remember the aim of communicating is to pass on a message. Well, you may choose the big words if your intention is to confuse everyone. And I doubt that is what you want. Or is it?
Very importantly, know when to sound formal, semi-formal or rather informal, as this would depend on the occasion. A report to the Board of Directors would be a very odd place to sound very informal. The language used in a closed-door meeting of a department should be more relaxed than when you are giving an end of year report or a presentation to have an approval for a project.
You also need to pay attention to how you communicate when you are on the phone. It is important that you speak clearly and loudly enough while still being polite.
Then of course, work on your verbal and non-verbal communication. I learnt some years ago, that the manner a thing is communicated is sometimes even more important than the message itself. Watch your facial expressions, your body language, and how you cut across to the people you work with. The way you greet clients, the little smile that says you care as an administrator- they are all a part of communication. Some organisations have lost clients or deals simply because of how the administrator or manger sounded in a meeting or on the phone. Or when a proposal did not go through simply because it was not well presented.
When speaking, mind the way you pronounce words. Speak clearly.
Don’t speak so fast that everyone keeps asking you to repeat yourself always.
Don’t thunder at people.
I could go on and on…
Now, let us look at ways you can improve your communication skills.
Firstly, you need to have a desire to improve. Make improving your communication skills a top priority, and other things will start falling into place.
Secondly, you should make efforts to read good books. It has been found out that people who read widely generally become better communicators than those who do not read regularly. Books expose you to new words and how to use them. I’d advise that you check up the meanings of new words you come across in books and take note of their meanings. Then practise using them to make sentence.
Watch good movies where there are decent conversations. This way, you will be able to pick up new words and how they are pronounced. Please I do not mean you should learn English from Nollywood Movies. Do the math yourself oh!
Be mindful of your body language. You may want to practise speaking to the mirror and watching yourself, to have a feel of how you look when you speak.
Regularly watch, listen to or read materials from the people whose communication skills you admire greatly.
Learn to maintain eye contact with people when you speak to them. It shows that you’re giving them your attention, and they’d feel respected.
Develop your listening skills too. To be an effective communicator, you must learn to listen as well.
Done reading this?
I highly recommend that you join me in my weekly Instagram webinars on the programme Strictly Administration with Nancy. We had Episode 3 yesterday. Save a reminder on your phone to join me every Wednesday at 6 p.m. Nigeria time.
Hook up with me right now on my Instagram handle @nancyekpezu on Instagram, so that you do not forget. Also join my Facebook group Educational Administration Network, where I share content on school administration, leadership and personal development. We are currently over 11,000 members from various countries.
And if you’re an emerging or established administrator and you need a mentor or coach, please reach out to me on WhatsApp at +234-803-5880-367, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be my pleasure to share with you from my skills, knowledge and experience acquired in my twenty-five years in the education sector, and fifteen of which were spent as an administrator.