Effective workplace communication can make or break a business. On the surface, it might not sound all that serious but over time poor communication can stunt a business’s growth and success.
Poor communication can:
- Lead to increased turnover.
- Cause a rise in absenteeism.
- Lower the levels of customer satisfaction.
Good communication can:
- Build trust between employees and management.
- Create an enjoyable work environment.
- Make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the business’s goals.
So, what are some ways businesses can improve their workplace communication? In all honesty, the answer is simple: by making sure there is always open communication. However, an “open-door policy” is not always enough. Employees can still feel anxious or like they are stepping out of place when they are the ones who have to make the first move. Putting policies in place that take an active interest in what an employee has to say can solve this.
Create a safe space
Have you ever heard of psychological safety? It might sound complicated but it is fairly easy to understand and will play a huge part in improving workplace communication. In layman’s terms, it is making sure that your employees feel safe not just physically but emotionally and mentally. Most importantly, it is about actively making sure employees know they can communicate without the fear of negative consequences. Basically, you want to make sure that no one ever feels like they are asking “stupid” questions. Employees will be more willing to speak up and join in conversations if they know they will not be met with harsh judgement.
If someone is constantly (and rudely) interrupting people when they are trying to have their say, make sure they are reprimanded for this. Whilst you don’t want to stop anyone from speaking up, it should never be over someone else. This is why it is always important that management lead by example and also hold themselves accountable if they make mistakes. Whilst there are hierarchies in business, we are all human and should be able to communicate as such.
1-to1s vs Team Meetings
People can still feel reluctant to communicate even if management is adamant that they can always be approached. Sometimes it is more effective to organise one to one meetings where an employee will feel like they are being actively listened to. These meetings don’t need to have strict agendas but having a goal or questions either party want to ask will make sure the time is being used effectively. It can also be a good time to provide feedback to particular employees. Make sure the feedback is always based on observations and not personal opinions. Constructive feedback can build motivation and confidence but purely critical feedback could shut down communication entirely.
Team meetings (whether they be weekly or monthly) can work in a similar way. However, these meetings will also encourage people to share ideas with their colleagues, therefore, encouraging communication between team members as well. It can be a great idea to use this time to make sure everyone understands any goals or aims as well as recognise achievements that have been made toward them. Team meetings can also be used to brainstorm new ideas and directly involve employees in the future of the business. Ending these meetings with a Q&A will further remind employees they are always welcome to ask questions and clear up any misunderstandings to continue strengthening workplace communication.
Additionally, some people just don’t feel comfortable physically speaking up so there should always be an option to give anonymous feedback. This will make sure everyone’s voice is being heard even if they choose not to physically use theirs.
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