Workplace communication can make or break a company. Countless employee conflicts, performance issues, and hostile work environments come back to communication or lack of communication.
Here’s the bottom line: If you think you’re communicating with your employees enough, you’re probably not.
Now, I’m not saying go out and schedule a bunch more meetings and call it communication. Too many meetings with unclear agendas and objectives create the opposite problem and lead to disengaged employees.
Here are three strategic ways to improve workplace communication.
1. Set clear expectations when hiring or changing roles
If you fail to effectively communicate someone’s role in the organization, the structure of the company, and how all the pieces fit together, people will create their own ideas of what that all looks like. And when people create their own ideas, you’re going to have conflict.
If there’s a team meeting and no one has been designated to lead it, someone will walk into the room and take the lead. And then someone else will likely resent it and question who made that person the boss. That’s just one example of the many ways lack of communication creates conflict among a team.
When you’re hiring someone, switching someone to a different role, or creating a cross-functional project team, it’s critically important that everyone has a clear understanding of their specific role. Job descriptions, the right interview process, and 45-day reviews all play a role in helping new hires and people in new roles understand their responsibilities. For cross-functional teams, even a simple list assigning specific roles among the team can help set clear expectations.
2. Ensure clear priorities for all employees and the team
Establishing priorities is another area where lack of communication creates problems in companies. This can be individual priorities for an employee or shared priorities among a team. It even encompasses the priorities as the company for a whole. When everyone’s on the same page about priorities, things run much more smoothly for the company.
One way to help establish team priorities is to have a brief (10- to 15-minute) team meeting every Monday to kick off the week. That provides an opportunity to set clear priorities and answer any questions from the team to start the week off right.
3. Create feedback loops to support ongoing communication
This is the most critical aspect of improving workplace communication. Too often managers and supervisors fall into the trap of talking at their employees instead of talking with them. A company that prioritizes feedback loops will have better communication all around because they invest the time to make sure people understand what has been communicated.
So what exactly is a feedback loop? It’s any opportunity for two-way communication among employees and supervisors. This might include structured weekly meetings with plenty of time for questions, quarterly reviews to talk about duties and priorities, and a culture that encourages two-way communication.
Feedback loops extend beyond the direct relationship between an employee and supervisor, too. If an employee is struggling with something and their direct supervisor is unavailable, whom should they approach? If they have an idea to improve efficiency in the company, can they take it to leadership? It’s important to create a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing thoughts with management as a whole, not just their individual manager.
Workplace communication is a critical factor for success in businesses of all sizes. If you need help ensure a culture of good workplace communication, contact Why HR today to discuss your needs.