Six ways to improve workplace communications...
1. Create A Communication-Friendly Environment
One of your (many!) roles as a manager is to make sure that there’s always a clear and constant flow of communication with your team.
Speaking up about feelings or sharing ideas and initiatives should never be taboo. So how do you create a communication-friendly office?
• Lead by example: Always say good morning to everyone and get the conversation flowing by asking how their evening was or if they have anything they need help with. Ask questions, challenge ideas, communicate your feelings, etc.
• Encourage social interactions: Prompt employees to eat away from their desks during lunch so they have a chance to communicate with one another and build relationships with their colleagues.
• Open-door policy: Keep it open as often as possible. On a less literal level, this reminds your employees that you’re there for them to talk whenever they need.
2. Keep It Constant
Schedule one hour, monthly 121s with your employees so that you can keep up to date on where your employees are at, how they are feeling, and what they might need from you to best contribute to the team.
You’d be surprised how much your employees have to say that they might not bring up if you didn’t initiate this allotted space for them to talk.
3. Team Meetings
Schedule these in quarterly or bi-annually, depending on the size of your team.
There may be some collective, organisational problems that you’re not aware of and the employees may feel safer discussing them with you as a group.
However, some employees may feel shy speaking up in a public forum, so also try passing around some post-it notes and pens for people to send in their questions anonymously.
This will result in them feeling a greater sense of belonging and part of something bigger, which will reflect in their performance.
4. Communication Methods
Face to face communication is always the best form of communication, as e-mails or text messages, as we’ve all learnt I’m sure, can easily be misinterpreted.
However, in a busy office, this isn’t always possible, so if you are e-mailing, make sure it is written in friendly but professional language and check it before you send it out – would you be happy with the content if you were the recipient?
No matter how difficult the message is that you have to relay, your employees will not respect you if you hide behind your computer!
5. Watch Your Body Language
Non-verbal communication is also important when communicating with others, so make sure your body language is open and approachable, for example:-
• Smile (when appropriate, of course!)
• Keep your arms uncrossed • Maintain an upright posture
• Maintain eye contact – don’t keep looking at your phone or the clock!
6. Know When to Listen
If you actively listen to your employee, they will share much more with you and respect you more.
No one wants to open up to someone who is not actively engaged in the conversation.
You should set aside all other thoughts and concentrate on what your employee is saying.
Ask questions, reflect, and paraphrase to ensure you understand the message and show them that you are actually listening.
If you don't, then you'll find that what someone says to you and what you hear can be amazingly different!