To have a functional team, great communication at work is essential.
Not only is proper communication key to company success, but a lack of it is detrimental. When communications at work are weak, employee disengagement is most likely high.
On the contrary, good communication in the workplace can develop positive relationships, break down obstacles and bring people together towards a common goal.
We want to help you improve communication at work, but first…
13 Ways To Improve Communication At Work
Create A Communication-Friendly Space
It’s your role as a manager to make sure that there is always a clear and constant flow of communication on your team. Speaking up about feelings or sharing ideas and initiatives should never be taboo. You need to encourage your team to express themselves by creating a communication-friendly environment.
Tips to create a communication-friendly office
- Set the example: Always be communicating. Say good morning to your team to raise spirits and get the conversation flowing from the moment the day begins. Ask questions, challenge ideas, communicate your feelings, etc.
- Encourage social interactions: Prompt and inspire employees to eat away from their desks during lunch hour so they have a chance to communicate with one another and build relationships with their colleagues.
- Keep your door open: If you claim to have an open-door policy, really, keep it open as often as possible. On a less literal level, the proverbial open-door policy can be imparted by just reminding your employees often that you’re there for them to talk whenever they need.
Keep It Constant
Instead of relying on annual reviews to communicate with your employees, schedule monthly one-on-ones 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.
Schedule one hour every month to chat. You’d be surprised how much your employees have to say that they might not bring up if you didn’t initiate these slotted talking times.
Hold Weekly Town Hall Meetings
In addition to monthly one-on-one meetings, it’s important to schedule the same sort of initiative but for the whole team, in an open forum.
At Officevibe we hold a Town Hall meeting once a week, where employees can ask questions and share concerns, and managers can fill employees in on new projects coming up, OKRs and goals. Including everyone in these sorts of conversations is a great way to keep your team engaged. They’ll feel a greater sense of belonging and feel part of something bigger, which will reflect in their performance.
Some employees may feel shy speaking up in a public forum, so try passing around some post-it notes and pens for people to send in their questions anonymously.
Make it Two-Way
Communication should never be solely top-down, or only one way. Regardless of the means through which you are communicating, always solicit your employees to share their thoughts, offer feedback, and get involved in a discussion.
For example, in a review, ask your employees to communicate their feedback on your performance as a manager:I’d love to know how you think I have been doing as your manager. Do you have any tips, suggestions or feedback you can share with me? I hope to improve as well, so your insight would be really appreciated
Or, if you are sending a company-wide email with some big news, at the end of the message, encourage everyone to communicate their thoughts.After sharing this news, I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this big change. If you have any questions, concerns or insights, feel free to pass by my office anytime. I’d be happy to talk and hear your thoughts.
Our biggest breakthrough with our software was finding a way to allow managers to respond to the feedback that their employees send in, ensuring that communication is always a conversation, not just a one-way street or a dead end.
Keep It Face To Face
Using tools like Slack and email are often the most efficient, however, it’s important to remember that face to face communication has a great amount of value in terms of sincerity and authenticity.
Part of communication is human interaction, so as much as you possibly can without disrupting workflow, try speaking instead of typing. It will resonate more.
Watch Your Body Language
Non-verbal communication is also important for leaders to consider. Your body language has a huge impact on the people around you.
Try to communicate with a positive physical presence and ensure that your body language is open and approachable.
- Keep your arms uncrossed.
- Maintain an upright posture.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Put your devices away.
Ideally, there’s no such thing as too much communication, but too much of anything isn’t good.
After work hours, keep the number of emails you send to employees to a minimum. While your communication is likely very important, it can also most probably wait until the following day.
In a perfect world, people know to power down after work hours and stop checking their emails, but the truth is that most of us are so connected to our jobs and our devices that not checking seems unnatural.
If you promote a healthy work-life balance, help them make that possible.
Know When To Listen
Listening to employees allows them to have more space to give honest and transparent feedback.
In this article by Forbes, they recommend empathetic listening:
Try to feel excited when the person you’re listening to is excited, or concern when the other person is concerned. Reflect the other person’s emotions not only verbally, but also with your facial expressions.
Tips to help you listen better:
- Be comfortable with silence
- Be present
- Take the time to repeat
Try to remain a little more silent when you’re talking with someone. These gaps give people time to reflect and think about what else they have in mind. You never know, they may end up sharing something they wouldn’t have.
It may seem obvious, but listening is also completely focusing on the interaction you have with the person. Try to not look at your phone or any other distractions.
Try to repeat what the other person said. Not only will they feel like you were truly listening, but it also makes sure that you are both on the same page, and that there are no misunderstandings.
Offer A Platform For Anonymous Feedback
This concept of anonymity in communication is crucial to consider in all work environments. Often, employees won’t share feedback with their managers because they are hesitant about making a complaint, or sharing their feelings openly. While we’re all for transparency and vulnerability, the anonymous feature facilitates the process of sharing feelings.
Having a tool like Officevibe allows you to keep track of important issues in real-time, know how your team is feeling with honest feedback and enables you to solve problems before they become too big.
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience means changing the way you communicate to fit the personality of the person you’re talking to. It goes deeper than just the way you express yourself. It’s also the way you listen, how you empathize, and how you can understand how they think. It’s also how you can build common ground and a real connection in your conversations.
Tips to your communication with your audience
- Have visuals
- Give room for some improvisation
- Have an example
Having visuals will always help your audience to understand what you’re saying. It also allows you to have a much clearer communication.
Try to ask questions to your audience that will make them think, and adjust your communication according to their answers. While you still know what you will talk about, give some room to improvisation to be able to adjust your conversation and make it a little more natural.
It’s definitely not easy to improve, but try to find someone in your entourage who you think embodies one of these aspects. It’s also something you need to practice continuously.
This one goes without saying, but still, so many conversations and communications can sometimes feel rehearsed. In a great talk given by Sheryl Sandberg called The Importance Of Authentic Communication, she explains that to have more authentic conversations at work, it starts with the mindset.
She explains that in a conversation, you shouldn’t assume that what you are saying is the ultimate truth, don’t try to always convince the other person.
Simply say what you think, and allow the other to do the same. By not having a preconception or a belief, you allow the other person to express themselves freely.
“There is your truth, there is my truth, and everything is subjective.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Incorporate Team Building Games
Team building activities and icebreaker games are always good ways to encourage communication in a team.
Not only do the team members get to know each other beyond the context of work (don’t talk about work-related stuff), they also have fun and get to break the ice ;).
One activity that we really like is sharing something completely unexpected about ourselves with the rest of the team.
Write it down on a piece of paper, throw it into a hat and everyone will try guess to whom the post-it belongs. We’ve learned some pretty interesting things about our colleagues!
Try One Up, One Down
At the end of our meetings, we started using the “One Up 👍 One Down 👎” game where two members of the meeting have to say one thing they appreciated about the meeting, and one thing they think could be improved.
This game is a good way to collect great feedback and help the person who did the meeting learn from that experience on the spot.
Even though this exercise can happen in private, it’s also interesting to have that conversation in front of everyone at the end of the meeting.
It reduces the chances of having something unproductive being said while giving a lot of transparency on what to improve while helping everyone improve.
Do you have any communication techniques you can share?
We’d love to hear your thoughts!
This post has been updated to reflect current views.