Your business is your baby. And just like a child you’ve given birth to, you want your business to grow, thrive, and become wildly successful. But much like a baby, no one will love your business the same way you do, so you have to set the tone for everyone else. To ensure the future success of your business, one of the first items on your to-do list should be building methods for effective communication in your organization. You need to ensure that your “business baby” possesses this skill early on for everyone’s benefit.
Setting workplace communication standards
Create a business culture where open communication is the name of the game. This will foster an environment where your employees feel valued and respected. Encouraging open communication is a simple and generally low-cost way to boost company morale, retain loyal, high-quality employees, and save your company scads of cash in the long run. Sounds great, right?
As a business owner, I always encourage my team to talk to me. I believe that what anyone in any position has to say is just as important as what I have to say. I need to be open to hear it, and they need to feel empowered to share it. Let’s look at some of the ways you can improve communication in the workplace and be the boss you know you are.
Creating a communication-friendly environment
Chances are, you feel more like yourself and more at ease when you know you can openly speak your mind. Here’s how you can improve communication in your work environment by creating a communication-friendly environment where every employee knows their opinions are welcomed and, more importantly, valued.
Lead by Example
If you are constantly communicating, then the people who work for you will see that you find value in communication. Make sure you are approachable, transparent, and engaged. Speak to your employees when you see them. Talk about their life outside of work. Ask questions and get curious. Your employees are more apt to model your behavior when they see that you are doing them, too. The best part? It costs you nothing!
Encourage Team Interactions
Every employee, no matter their role, should feel that they belong at your company. Don’t let anyone feel alone or isolated at work. While different employees have different needs when it comes to socializing, encourage opportunities for team members to interact with one another. Host periodic team-building activities. Encourage employees to eat lunch together. Celebrate important events as an organization. Team interactions build camaraderie.
You may need to spring for a cake each month and budget for some modest excursions. Still, making sure no one is feeling isolated is a priceless gift well worth the food and drinks you bought for the last get-together.
Have an Open-Door Policy
At work, my door is always open. I have found an open-door policy to be one of the most effective ways to improve workplace communication. This kind of standard breeds feedback and discussion and fosters a sense of trust among your employees. You will find that when you leave your door open for feedback, they’ll start to feel more comfortable coming to you or their supervisors when they are having an issue or have identified an opportunity for improvement.
Again, this is a budget-friendly implementation. You may lose some work time talking to your employees about their needs, but any time you spend will pay off in the long run. Chances are, you’ll save money by nipping problems in the bud. You may uncover needed improvements for things you didn’t realize needed fixing before, plus reduce your bottom line by retaining employees you may have lost due to frustration or disempowerment before.
Breaking up with unnecessary meetings
Don’t you just love meetings? …No? Neither does anyone else. Communication should be effective, not overdone. The days of the consistent weekly meeting are over (at least, they should be). Statistically, workers’ biggest issues with meetings include late starting or ending times, meetings that could have been emails, incorrect time allotment, and distracted or interrupting attendees. Chances are, your meetings aren’t as productive as you’d like them to be, and you’re probably better off without some of them.
Luckily, there are dozens of ways to effectively communicate with your employees regularly without meetings. Trade hours of productivity that would otherwise be lost for more efficient modes of communication – project management software, interactive documents, task lists, Slack communities, emails, and instant messaging are just a few examples of ways you can keep communication flowing without having a prescribed time set aside each week for a meeting that always feels too long.
Now, not all meetings are avoidable. Keeping meetings to a minimum and prioritizing the essential ones will help your employees see that the meetings that are called are vital. Odds are, if you do this, engagement in the meetings you do hold will go up, as will attendance.
How to fix a communication breakdown
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If it is, you’d better hop to it! A communication breakdown is a domino effect you want to stop in its tracks.
When’s the last time you polled your employees to find out what’s working and what isn’t? If you just answered “never,” carve out time immediately to send an anonymous survey gathering employee feedback. It could make the difference between keeping and losing an employee without even knowing it.
Send out a questionnaire on a regular basis, maybe quarterly, to get honest feedback on how your team is feeling about how things are going and what areas they’d like to see improved.
These surveys let your employees know that their opinion matters. Who doesn’t want to feel like they matter? When you give your team a voice and actually listen to what they have to say, it goes miles towards building trust and good rapport, which will only boost productivity in the long run.
The last part of this is crucial, so don’t skip this step. Be open about the results of your feedback and what you did as a result of the responses you received. Say some members of your team feel your bonus structure is unclear. How great would it feel to those employees to have you address their concerns by sharing the following:
- We’ve been told that our bonus structure is unclear
- Based on your feedback, we created a document that outlines the way certain bonuses are reached
- We will have a review period open for the next month for employees to share thoughts on whether the structure needs additional work or clarification
Don’t just take in feedback. Show your employees what you’re doing with their ideas.
In the Beginning – How to communicate right, right from the start
Bring in employees who fit the company culture
One way to encourage effective communication in the workplace is by bringing in the right employees who will fit into your company’s culture. Include questions in the interview process that evaluate the prospective employee’s alignment with your mission, vision, and communication standards. This will save you time on training and reduce turnover. Plus, new employees will feel more prepared for the work environment if they have a basic understanding of your company’s ideals before starting.
Solidify a Future-Forward Mission and Vision
When new employees start, they should have a clear concept about your company’s goals and where you’re headed in the future. The only way you can do this is by solidifying your mission and vision in a way that lays out what you’d like to accomplish in the future, and how you’re ensuring you’re making progress towards those goals today. Being direct with your mission and vision will help get all of your employees on the same page about future growth, team goals, and where they fit in when it comes to the big picture.
Develop a culture map
Here’s another area where surveying can come in handy. Do you know what topics are relevant to your team members? Send out a questionnaire asking them what is important to them – what would make their work feel more meaningful? What do they want the business they are working for to represent? Again, this helps a prospective employee better understand their fit before their first day. Doing this can foster long-term employment. .
Use an Integral Talent Acquisition System
Having an Integral Talent Acquisition System in place will also ensure from the beginning that you hire employees who are a “best fit” for your company’s culture. This system will include having mission-aligned job descriptions, so prospective employees will know even before applying just what they are signing up for. This upfront means of communication will help them better understand what your company stands for and how they can become a part of something great!
Additionally, a First Impression System can help you set up your recruiters to uphold your company’s mission and vision throughout the interview process and create the right first impression to onboard the right talent.
If you foster complete transparency from the beginning and have a highly impactful communication system in place, it will help eliminate misalignment and team friction from the onset. This will eliminate multiple issues in the future, and it will save you time, which, in turn, saves money in the long run.
Effective Workplace Communication: Your Keys to the Kingdom
When it comes to running a successful business, effective communication from top to bottom and beginning to end is one of the most cost-effective and valuable things you can do for your business, both financially and culturally. Hopefully, you’ve walked away from this article with a few ideas of projects you could implement and ways you could start building better systems for your team to fix any issues that may be coming up. I like to keep it simple. Communicating right, right from the start, is the best way to ensure your “business baby” lives a long and happy life. The second-best time to start, however, is now. So make the switch – put communication first, and lead like a boss!
Guest post courtesy of Neha Naik