Good communication is a vital ingredient to any successful team. Without it, ideas don’t get shared, arising conflicts remain unresolved, and workflow grinds to a near halt. In this article, we discuss five essential tips on improving communication in the workplace.
In the workplace, communication plays a key role in any organisation’s productivity and efficiency – from nurturing genuine interpersonal relationships among employees to generating brilliant ideas on how to improve work processes to helping teams navigate project challenges or difficult conversations.
This is why it’s extremely important for every manager out there to foster a work environment that encourages good communication. Here are five tips on improving communication in the workplace:
Make the workplace communication-friendly
It’s your role as a manager to make sure that your employees feel as comfortable as possible sharing their feelings, frustrations and ideas with you and each other. The best way to do this is by leading by example.
Show them that improving communication in the workplace is a priority to your management style by leading the way in building, nurturing and practicing healthy communication habits at all times.
Greet them in the morning, regularly ask questions (and actually listen to their answers), probe them for what ideas and suggestions they have about company projects, and make sure to communicate your own authentic feelings instead of giving them rehearsed, canned and cliché responses to their queries.
Have an open-door policy where your employees can literally walk into your office any time and share whatever is on their mind. However, beyond the literal meaning, having an open-door policy requires you to regularly remind your employees that you are available for them to talk whenever they need it.
Encourage social interactions
Nurture your employees’ interpersonal relationships by prompting them to spend time together during the lunch hour and after work so that they get to become really comfortable with each other and build authentic relationships with their colleagues. This is critical towards improving team performance.
It’s also important to regularly schedule team building activities for existing employees to help them learn how to co-operate more smoothly as well as icebreaker games whenever you need to onboard new hires to help them get absorbed into their new teams much faster and more efficiently.
Team building activities and ice breaker games are key to improving communication in the workplace because they help employees understand the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s personalities so that they are able to figure out how best to work with each team member during company projects.
Create a culture of respect
Treating all your employees respectfully is a critical factor to both job satisfaction and improving communication in the workplace. When employees don’t feel respected, they become less receptive to both their managers’ and coworkers’ feedback and also less inclined to share their own feedback.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that when you show respect only to certain employees, this naturally causes frustration amongst the rest, creates division in the workforce as well as tension among those who are respected because they are not sure how long it will be before they too are disrespected.
You can create a culture of respect in the workplace by:
- actively listening when people have something to share with you;
- regularly motivating them to help them produce their best efforts;
- giving gentle but sincere criticism when their efforts are not enough;
- celebrating and recognising their efforts and achievements, and;
- showing them genuine empathy whenever they need it.
Keep communication constant
Communication should not be a task you tick off your to-do list but rather a continuous process that is woven into the fabric of your company culture.
Instead of waiting for the annual performance review to communicate with your employees, you should schedule monthly one-on-one meetings (or even fortnightly meetings if you have the time and resources for them) and quick un-scheduled check-ins.
This way, you can keep a finger on the pulse of how your employees feel about their assignments, how they are performing, what challenges they are facing (both in the workplace and in their personal lives), what kind of support they need in order to perform better and what suggestions they have in mind.
Furthermore, communication in this modern age requires that you leverage whatever technology tools you have at your disposal. Applications like Slack, Skype, and Google Hangouts have revolutionised how employees communicate.
These days, coworkers (especially Millennials) that are seated just a few feet apart would often much rather shoot messages across their desks over the Internet rather than talking face-to-face and that’s perfectly fine as long as the net result is better communication and collaboration.
The key thing for managers looking to improve communication in the workplace is to figure out how make these tools improve the organisation’s overall collaboration because at the end of the day, your means of communication have to evolve with your employees and the innovations of your time.
Enable anonymous feedback
Anonymity is one of the most important factors when it comes to improving communication in the workplace. The truth is that employee feedback is often negative and criticism is not easy to share even in non-professional relationships so in a hierarchical environment like the workplace it’s even harder.
Often, employees are hesitant to share their true feelings with their managers out of fear of retribution and/or isolation and yet it’s very vital for managers to receive honest employee feedback in order to make the necessary changes to improve productivity.
This is why anonymity in communication is very crucial in the workplace because without it, you never really get to real truth about what is going on.
Having an anonymous feedback tool available facilitates the transparency and vulnerability necessary for employees to share their genuine feelings about what is going on in the organisation such that key issues can be handled in real-time and arising problems can be deal with before they get out hand.
Healthy communication is the key to solving just about every problem when it comes to interpersonal collaboration.
Improving communication in the workplace is not an easy task to take on but is totally worth it because it leads to an engaged workforce with high levels of productivity and job satisfaction.