Workplace communication is the foundation of success for any business. It occurs through formal presentation and press releases as well as informal memos and quick emails. Good workplace communication can build trust within employees and employers, improve productivity, reduce turnover rates, and boost morale. It is the oxygen every company needs.
While communication is a key part of most employees' day-to-day work, it isn't always done efficiently. Too often, managers assume that employees know the information or don't think communicating is necessary or important. Never underestimate the importance of communication in the workplace. Take some time to review your communication best practices through these steps.
1. Define Goals and Expectations for Communication
The first step to understanding how to be an effective communicator in the workplace is to look at your goals. Evaluate where you need improved communication and why it would be valuable. There are several ways to do this. You can survey individual team members to understand how they think communication can be improved, or you can meet with each department to hold a round table on it. Some leaders do both.
You should have three to five goals and expectations for improved communication. Now you can create solutions to help you achieve those goals. For example, if one goal is to provide better customer feedback to team members, you could decide to set up a weekly feedback meeting to address positive and negative comments.
You can improve this process by involving your team. Your employees can offer solutions you might not have thought of and provide insight into their needs as workers.
2. Clearly Deliver Your Message and Answer Questions
How you communicate is just the first part of improving workplace communication. It is also important to clearly deliver your message and make sure everyone feels informed.
For example, during times of crisis, business leaders tend to make calming statements without actually going into detail. This frustrates employees who feel like the statement means nothing and doesn't provide real information.
If you are committed to open communication, practice it. Along with making a clear statement, hold the floor open for questions. Your employees will respect your honesty and have a realistic picture of what is happening within the brand.
If you ever feel like hiding information is better for your team members, remember this: Speculation is almost always worse than the truth. Your employees will assume the worst-case scenario and let rumors fly until you are direct about the actual situation.
Of course, providing clear answers doesn't just have to happen during a crisis. If you practice being open with your employees throughout the year when addressing small tasks, then they will trust you to be clear and honest when there is a problem.
3. Distribute Printed and Digital Memos in the Short Term
While you might want to go paperless within your company, communication challenges may prevent that. If your team members are missing updates or company memos, consider printing them out. This way there are at least two chances for your employees to see the messages and save the content.
As you work to improve your workplace communication, you might be able to switch to exclusively digital memos as long as the rest of your team is on board.
4. Include Everyone in Your Communication
One of the main best practices to follow in your communication strategy is to keep everyone in the loop. When employees feel left out, their morale drops. Cliques can form, and gossip can spread faster than the truth. This can lead to the spread of misinformation and cause confusion for what is expected of team members.
Improve your communication practices so everyone receives the relevant information they need. For example, you can set up quarterly town hall meetings or even monthly staff luncheons where your team can ask questions and learn about company plans. You can invest in communication tools that make it easier to spread messages.
Learn where the communication weaknesses in your company lie and take steps to fill them in an inclusive way.
5. Talk Less, Listen More
Listening is an important part of communication. When you listen, you can understand the needs and expectations of others. For example, the issue might not be the information that is presented, but how it is shared throughout the company.
Listening also helps you better understand the questions your employees ask. You can provide clear, accurate, and informative answers that help everyone involved.
As a business owner, challenge yourself to listen more. Show that you value listening, and your team members will likely match your behavior.
6. Practice Team-Building Communication Exercises
Through effective team-building, you can create a foundation for good communication. A team that trusts one another and understands the needs of others can communicate effectively. Consider setting up team luncheons where people can get to know each other in an informal setting. This helps people communicate in a low-pressure environment and practice for when they need to work together. You can also set up cross-training to improve teamwork and teach everyone about the jobs of others. This increases respect in the workplace alongside communication.
It might take extra time and resources within your company to build good communication habits, but the investment is worth it. The importance of communication in the workplace outweighs the costs, and you can reap benefits ranging from happier employees to fewer missed deadlines with the right communication practices.