According to a new survey by Robert Half, nearly a third of employees think their managers could be better at communicating. (Photo: iStock)

Workers aren’t happy with how their managers communicate — or, for that matter, with their manner.

Related: Happy employees make a happy company

You might think that bosses would be good communicators, able to deal with employees in a diplomatic manner, but many workers say that’s not the case. According to a study from Robert Half Management Resources, close to a third of workers (30 percent), when asked “Which skill do you think your manager needs to improve most?” say communication and diplomacy.

Greater technical expertise comes in second, with 18 percent choosing that, followed by leadership, at 17 percent. Lower on the list are strategic thinking (14 percent) and project management (8 percent).

There are differences among age groups in how many feel their managers’ communication and diplomacy skills fall short, with 36 percent of those ages 18–34 calling them out for poor skills, followed by 30 percent of workers 55 and over doing the same. GenXers, ages 35–54, seem the least bothered by a poor communicator in the driver’s seat, at 25 percent.

Related: Many managers can’t give constructive criticism 

According to Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, it’s frequently the case that at managerial and executive levels it’s actually more important to excel at leading employees and being able to communicate with them than it is to possess technical skills.

Pointing out that interpersonal abilities and diplomacy play a role in how far someone advances professionally, Hird says in a statement, “The greatest ideas go nowhere if a manager cannot express them effectively, gain consensus and build the work relationships necessary to execute them.”

The firm offers several suggestions for managers looking to improve their communication skills, including requesting “360-degree feedback” from managers, peers and employees and making it easy for them to provide it — perhaps anonymously; finding a role model who interacts well with their staff, and emulating their behavior; pushing beyond your comfort zone, perhaps by taking a class in public speaking; practicing active listening; and showing a human side instead of being a rigid manager.

Related: Are mangers the cause of wasted time at work?