Effective communication in the workplace is essential to engender employee collaboration, avoid missed deadlines and prevent goings-on that could negatively affect an organisation. Ineffective communication, or having a communication gap, can cause confusion, waste time and lower productivity. Managers and their report-in employees must be able to interact clearly and effectively with each other using both verbal and non-verbal communication to achieve set business goals. Effective communication with clients also plays a vital role in the success of an organisation.
What is workplace communication?
According to Wikipedia, “Workplace communication is the process of exchanging information and ideas, both verbally and non-verbally between one person or group and another person or group within an organisation. It includes e-mails, videoconferencing, text messages, notes, calls etc. Effective communication is critical in getting the job done, as well as building a sense of trust and increasing productivity.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_communication
“Effective communication is critical in getting the job done, as well as building a sense of trust and increasing productivity…”
Good communication is the most effective way to make sure everyone in a team understands what is expected of them, produces their best work and enjoys a positive work experience – all of which boosts productivity and supports a positive organisational culture. Here are seven tips for managers to foster good communication in the workplace.
1. Schedule monthly one-to-one meetings with employees
As an extension to having an open door policy with your employees, it is a great idea to regularly meet with each employee one-on-one. With varying personalities in the mix, some employees may find it easier and less stressful to communicate in a more personalised setting. You don’t need to follow a set business agenda for your one-to-ones, but it is productive to focus on current priorities, set short-term goals and check whether your employees have enough time, resources, and information to accomplish their tasks. It is also valuable in creating a confidential space for each employee to voice any concerns they might have.
2. Schedule weekly work team meetings
It builds better communication to run weekly team meetings, where everybody gets a chance to speak. These are the ideal forum for employees to provide an update, share their goals for the week, highlight hurdles and obtain any key information that will help them to complete tasks, while also learning more about what their team-mates are working on. Rather than being a gripe-fest, the aim of these team meetings should be greater transparency, improved communication and more opportunity for collaboration.
3. Create a safe space for workplace communication
Communication is only valuable to your business if your employees are being open and honest. It is important to create a team environment where colleagues feel comfortable expressing their ideas, voicing constructive criticism, and asking questions. When such a safe space is created, employees are more willing to say what they really mean instead of just towing the company line.
“Communication is only valuable to your business if your employees are being open and honest.”
4. Explain the reason why you are asking employees to do something
Assigning tasks without giving your employees any rationale or explanation as to why a task is important and how what they are going to accomplish will serve the bigger picture is a sure way to confuse and frustrate people within your team. There is a lot of research that proves that in order for a person’s work to be more meaningful, the individual needs to feel that they are serving a greater purpose. As a leader, communicating this greater value to each employee is an important priority.
5. The most effective feedback is constructive
Employees need feedback and to know if they are meeting expectations or not. If communicated poorly, feedback can come across as a personal attack. However, when feedback is constructive, it can help employees understand what they are doing well and what they need to improve upon. With a strong line of communication—whether as part of a regular one-on-one or in a team meeting if that is the best forum – feedback is an opportunity for growth and skills development.
6. Remember that communication is a two-way encounter
Effective communication needs to flow two ways. This means having the courage to ask employees for honest feedback on your ideas, giving everybody a chance to speak in meetings and making the effort to be present and listen deeply in return. An important tool in developing two-way communication is recognising that not every employee communicates in the same way. Holding an unstructured meeting, may lead to more extroverted employees dominating. Make sure to check in with quieter, more introverted employees too.
7. Ensure your team can provide confidential feedback
For an organisation to have a culture that promotes open communication, there has to also be an opportunity for employees to express themselves with freedom from judgement or accountability. There will always be matters that employees will only feel comfortable expressing confidentially. By offering your team a way to submit confidential feedback, it gives you as a manager the opportunity to uncover hidden issues that could be negatively affecting your employees and the organisation at large.
While communication is a two-way street, managers need to set an example for their team and the organisation as a whole by demonstrating what it means to be a good communicator. That means practicing good listening skills, giving staff members an opportunity to speak, setting clear expectations and providing regular feedback.