Excellent communication is the lynchpin of modern businesses. Without effective communication between team members, your team won’t develop world-beating ideas and could end up making more mistakes. By contrast, open lines of communication not only enhance productivity but also foster healthy, constructive employee-manager relations. When everyone is on the same page, it’s much easier for individuals in your team to make the right decisions and act in the best interest of the company.
Okay, that’s all well and good in theory, but actually putting effective communication in the workplace into practice is easier said than done. If excellent communication were easy to achieve, then it would be a staple of all businesses. Clearly, it’s not.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the practical steps you can take to encourage good communication with employees and make it a part of your workplace culture.
Host Regular 1 to 1’s Between Management and Employees
The role of managers is not only to facilitate work but also to ensure that their team functions correctly. The purpose of managers, therefore, is not just to coordinate the efforts of the team, but also to provide a degree of personal support and even to coach.
Managers also need to be sensitive to the communication styles of the people who work under them. Some team members won’t feel comfortable raising issues in group settings preferring instead to come directly to you.
One-to-one meetings can be a regular event in the calendar or informal chats here and there. What’s important is that they happen and that you take into account the communication style of people in your team who may find it difficult to vent concerns in a public forum.
Take Advantage of Tools That Support Quick and Transparent Communication
Workplace communication technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Workflow management tools allow individual workers to update others on their status with regards to an element of a project, helping to cut down on work duplication and emails. Weekdone claims that social technology could raise the productivity of worker interactions by between 20 and 25 per cent.
Chat apps are also helpful if used in the right way. Colleagues can quickly fire off a question to another team member without it getting buried in a pile of unopened emails, harming productivity. With chat, questions get answered immediately, allowing the team to progress faster than it otherwise might.
Operate An Open Door Policy
Some workplace cultures actively discourage dialogue between managers and employers. Employees sit in open-plan areas, and managers in closed-off offices around the periphery sat behind doors. Not only does this arrangement irritate employees, but it also physically cuts managers off from the people who need them. It’s potentially very damaging indeed.
Progressive firms recognised that this was a problem a long time ago and introduced open door policies. An open door policy is a company culture initiative which encourages employees to approach managers if they have an issue. Open door policies are all about achieving transparency and helping employees feel that they can come forward with questions or concerns.
Request Constant Feedback On all Projects Undertaken
Employees can sometimes be reluctant to come forward with problems that they’re having on a particular project which can, in turn, lead to a breakdown in channels of communication. In severe cases, the manager may believe that the team is further ahead with its work than it is.
Coaxing accurate information from employees is all about psychological safety: if a colleague knows that they’re going to be punished for coming forward with problems on a project, then they’re unlikely to do so until the last minute. Companies with good employee-manager communication strategies reward honesty instead of punishing it, and develop a culture in which people feel safe coming forward with the problems they’re having.
Feedback is also vital for another reason: letting employees know how they’re doing. Giving accurate, helpful feedback can build confidence and correct issues in specific individuals before they become habits. Colleagues want to know how well they’re doing and where their work needs to improve.
Define Clear Goals and Expectations – Don’t Assume Employees Know Them
According to Weekdone, about half of all companies fail to communicate company goals, mission, and objectives to employees. A firm might, for instance, have excellent customer service as its primary goal, but if regular workers don’t know this, then they can’t work towards it. Often you find that workers inadvertently make decisions that are not consistent with the objective set by management, believing that they are doing the right thing.
Firms with excellent communication get around this problem by regularly reminding teams of their goals, as well as the mission of the firm at large. Ideally, colleagues will be conscious of the value and priorities of the company in every decision that they make.
Ensure You Involve Everyone
Some of your employees will feel confident coming forward and telling you what they think and know. But others – the introverts – may struggle. Ensuring that everyone is involved can be challenging, especially if you don’t fully understand the communication style of each person. It’s imperative, therefore, to get everyone involved systematically.
What does this look like in practice? Essentially, it means taking the time to speak with people who might not be as willing to share their thoughts. Ask plenty of questions both in person and in email/text to open up lines of communication that may be hard to establish.
Implementing these initiatives can lead to greater employee satisfaction, lower colleague turnover, higher productivity, fewer mistakes, and a culture committed to the overall mission of the business. Weak lines of communication not only make it harder to achieve your objectives but also adversely affect employee morale. Smart business leaders are already using methods like those explained above to build a healthy workplace culture. By putting some of these approaches in place, you can vastly cut down on the problems that may emerge in your business.