Communication is key to all relationships. The workplace is no exception. Improved communication in the workplace has a flurry of benefits, including heightened employee retention, higher levels of staff engagement, and increased productivity. A lack of communication, on the other hand, will lower both workplace morale and efficiency. Below, we’ve compiled a list of ways in which you can encourage improved communication in your workplace.
Create a space conducive to communication
As a manager, you should always encourage your team to freely communicate their opinions and ideas on projects and tasks. One employee may be working on a project that could really benefit from the input of another employee. In an openly communicative space, the two employees could collaborate and produce a fantastic piece of work. In a closed communicative space, the project is completed without the extra insight, and is purely sub-par. Hence, a communicative space can be greatly beneficial.
You can create this kind of space in a few ways. Firstly, set the example. Always communicate with your employees. Welcome them in the morning, ask them how things are progressing in their department, and provide advice and time for feedback. Secondly, inspire social interactions. Encourage the lunch hour to be spent with colleagues away from the desk in an open space such as a lunch room. Finally, keep yourself open to communication. Keep your office door open when possible, and encourage employees to approach you whenever they need to.
Consistency is key
Once-yearly reviews may provide some insight into employee performance, but they don’t really set a great standard for communication. If possible, it’s much more conducive to success to schedule shorter, once-monthly meetings with each employee. This way, there is a regular chance for employees to communicate how they’re progressing, and how they’re feeling about their position. You would be amazed how many issues get brushed under the rug when you’re only meeting once a year.
Hold whole team meetings
Regular meetings with the whole team are also a great way to engage in constructive discussion. It’s important to remember that for each item on your agenda, employees have a chance to give their feedback or ideas. It is a meeting, not a lecture, after all. A great way to structure team meetings is to make each agenda item a ‘goal’. Each team meeting could have three or four main goals for the weeks or months ahead, and employees will have the chance to discuss how they can contribute. Some people can get shy in these group situations, so try to incorporate using pen and paper, or whiteboards for their contributions.
Anonymous feedback platforms
There are some scenarios in which the communication needs to be slightly more private. Employees are often very hesitant to critique management, even if a certain situation at work is making them feel uncomfortable. A good way around this issue is to operate an anonymous feedback platform. You could send around a once-monthly management performance review, where employees can honestly give their feedback. It’s important to create an environment where employees feel they can communicate face-to-face without punishment, however sometimes this isn’t fully achievable. That’s when these platforms become useful.
Employ communication tools and software
Providing employees tools for collaboration is one of the easiest ways to encourage improved communication. Tools such as Slack, Roubler, and Google Docs, help to simplify the process of collaborating and communicating with other team members. These tools are especially great if employees need to work from home, or in a remote location. They enable these external employees to still participate in group discussions and planning regarding projects and tasks. Because these kinds of tools are so easy to use, they encourage constant communication with little distraction. They help to centralise communication so that all employees can remain up-to-date.
Tools are helpful, but nothing can trump face-to-face communication. Regular meetings help to drive this point, but there are other ways to encourage face-to-face. If you have a message to pass on to an employee whilst you’re both in the office, swing by their desk instead of sending an email. Put your devices away when an employee comes to your office. Don’t send countless emails to employees out of hours. These small steps will help drive the message that face-to-face communication is important.
Improved communication has a flurry of benefits, and is very achievable. These steps will help to encourage an openly communicative, and collaborative environment in your workplace.