Like in any relationship, without successful communication, it just won’t work.
Not only is proper communication key to company success, but a lack of it is detrimental. When communication on a team is weak, employee disengagement is most likely high.
We want to help you improve communication at work, but first…
9 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.
At a former job of mine, no one really spoke when they got to the office. Everyone just went straight to work, silently. It really aggravated the culture of the company and I’m sure many people didn’t share their thoughts because there was so much emphasis placed on not communicating, that the act of communicating became anxiety-inducing.
But workplaces shouldn’t function like this. You’re working with humans, not robots.
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.
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.
Offering a platform like Officevibe for employees to express themselves anonymously – and on a weekly basis – is a great way to keep a pulse on your team.
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 the Officevibe employee engagement 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.
Use The Best Communication Channels
Officevibe uses a communication tool called Slack, which incidentally has also become a very important addition to our company culture.
You can use these office communication tools to create channels that encourage constant, simplified communication.
For example, we have a “Kudos” channel that allows for us to offer public recognition and praise for a job well done – communicated to the entire company, frequently, to keep the energy positive and high.
Likewise, we have an “Important” channel where top management can communicate big news in a less formal mode.
Basically, it centralizes communication, making it easy for everyone to be in touch at all times, and also to have some fun.
Try creating an “office language” specific to your company culture. Create abbreviations or acronyms that make communicating through these channels fun.
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.
Sometimes I find myself “Slacking” the person next to me instead of just swivelling my chair to speak to them. 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.
I’d like to say that 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 an ideal 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
I once left a one-on-one meeting with a manager, completely shocked with how much I shared, how much I got off my chest, and how much I actually had to say.
I realize afterward that it was because he didn’t really speak, he just listened. It was a great technique to get me to communicate – not only because there was silence to fill – but because when you really feel like someone is listening, you’re more likely to share.
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.
Before you go, don’t forget to grab this template to help you improve communication during your one on ones.
Do you have any communication techniques you can share?
We’d love to hear your thoughts!