Here’s an important one: improving workplace communication.
Why should workplace communication be at the top of your list? Because it affects how your team will face challenges to come. Their relationships with each other, the trust they have between them and even being innovative together all depend on how well they can communicate.
Remember, it’s a manager or business owner’s responsibility to monitor workplace communication. What you do will set the tone for the rest of the team.
So, how would you rate communication at the moment? Is it time to improve? You’ll love the results and we’ll tell you how to get it right.
1. Ask for—and Listen to–Feedback
Start by asking for employees’ feedback. This can be on general topics like company culture, or a specific project. But don’t ask the questions if you’re not prepared to really listen to the replies. When employees notice their opinions bring about change, they start participating more.
2. It Can’t be a One Time Thing
You may get this important feedback at a meeting focused on improving office communication. But it can’t stop there. Effective communication requires an ongoing flow of information which you can facilitate through:
- Having an open door policy where workers feel comfortable talking to you at any time.
- Using social media to share news. Create interesting content that’s exciting for team members to share online. This will stimulate communication at the office too.
- Clearly defined roles and responsibilities help workers know who they need to report to or brainstorm with, to help the company move forward.
Remember, you need to set an example and facilitate the methods of office communication.
3. What Does Your Body Language Tell Your Team?
If you’re wondering why the team isn’t communicating the way you want them to, do some self-reflection. What messages do you send your team with your body language? Something as simple as not making eye contact can make them feel you’re in a bad mood or you don’t respect them.
Learn new habits such as:
- Not using mobile devices while you’re talking to them
- Smiling more often
- Having an upright posture with uncrossed arms
Tip: let one of your peers take note of your body language for a week and give you feedback, so you know what to change.
4. Technology Works—but Face to Face is Better
You need to do two things to facilitate effective flow of information:
- Use tech: Part of effective workplace communication is making sure the right data, documents and messages reach the right people. Collaboration software such as Convene can help colleagues send information, store documents and collaborate. It prevents misunderstandings because everything is kept on record and can be reviewed.
- Have face-to-face meetings: You must have personal interaction between yourself and team members so everyone can appreciate each other’s authenticity. This builds trust.
Use software, email and mobile phones, but sacrifice some time for personal interaction to ensure the work environment isn’t too clinical.
5. Talk AND Write
Even after a face-to-face meeting, send a follow up email about the discussion. Help your team remember what was decided and what they need to do. This prevents tension in the office due to a forgotten task. When there are fewer conflict situations, there’s more trust—an important factor in workplace communication.
6. Effective Onboarding of New Team Members is a Priority
Don’t forget to teach newbies how to join in on your new workplace communication culture. Each new employee must have access to your communication platforms and be invited to give feedback from the start.
7. Use Communication to Inspire
Avoid this: only communicating about to do lists.
What about congratulating the team when a project was successful? Or sharing employees’ good news, such as a pregnancy? This is how you move from a clinical office to a personal environment where everyone enjoys sharing.
8. Revise Office Layouts
To help employees talk to each other you can consider changing the office layout. Instead of giving each one a cubicle with view-blocking partitions, let them sit in groups in an open plan office.
Note: an open plane layout doesn’t work for everyone. It depends on whether group work is necessary. Also, some individuals are more productive when left alone. Take all factors into consideration before making changes.
9. Build Team Spirit
If you don’t have effective communication at the moment—and especially if employees don’t feel comfortable sharing their views—you have to prove to them that it can be different in future. A breakaway outside the office with fun activities can help them relax in each other’s presence. Team building exercises can help them trust each other.
How will you know what needs work in your company? You need to assess the situation—such as using an anonymous poll—to determine what you need to work on to improve workplace communication.
It’s worth the effort, so get started