Internal communication is the lifeblood of your business. It doesn’t matter how well you set up processes and procedures, if your employees do not feel secure enough to communicate to fellow colleagues and management, work will not be efficient. Problems will not be addressed properly, innovation will be stagnant, and your customers will not be served well.
Good communication enhances your team’s productivity and helps connect a growing percentage of your workforce: millennials. Millennials, more than generations before them, like to provide meaningful input and receive steady feedback and validation. An uptight culture where communication is hindered will turn this generation away, and you’ll spend a lot of time and money training a millennial employee who will only end up staying with your organization for a short time.
Solid communication can elevate employee morale, encourage productivity, and even facilitate a stronger commitment to the company. Let’s look at tips for improving communication in your business.
1) Create and Maintain a Positive Work Culture
A positive work culture is friendly, open, and encouraging. To help create this, you can maintain a figurative, as well as literal, open-door policy. Demonstrate to your employees that management is approachable and ready to communicate.
Have regular communication that is not always about new directives or company policy. Touch base with employees generally. Help them feel like they are not just a cog in a machine. Help them feel that they are a valued member whose opinions matter.
2) Obtain Feedback
If you are going to uncover and address any issues that employees may be experiencing, you’ll need to periodically solicit feedback. This not only gives you much needed intel, but helps encourage your employees to be an active participant in the business.
You’ll need to address feedback as much as possible or the endeavor is worthless. Employees will see the gesture as meaningless and 1) stop contributing and 2) see management as not caring, which defeats the whole goal of improving communication.
Try to address feedback with changes where possible and make sure you openly acknowledge that a given change is due to feedback. This action helps employees see that their feedback matters; that voicing their opinion makes a difference.
3) Hold Monthly Team Meetings
Anyone who works in a corporate setting is all too aware that meetings can be a huge “time suck”. But a face-to-face meeting with your team can be fruitful. It is suggested that you keep the agenda light and use the meeting as more of a “rallying of the troops”. The meeting should include public acknowledgements of accomplished individual and team goals, as well as a forecast of what’s ahead and how the team is ready for the challenge.
You can also employ a feedback tool at the conclusion of the meeting. Ask a few members for something positive and for something negative about the meeting itself. This gives you real-time feedback and group opinion on that feedback.
4) Communicate Directly With Employees
Management should take time during the week to have in-person discussions, or even just quick chats, with employees. Allow employees to get to know management on a more informal level. The more familiar they are with management, the easier communicating with management is for them.
5) Be Approachable and Authentic
Do not be fake. You’ve hired smart people to work at your company. They can tell when management is not genuine. This includes both online and in-person communication. Avoid sending, or giving, too many generic communications to employees. Where possible, personalize messages.
Management should also pay attention to their body language when they communicate with staff. When an employee is communicating to managers, body language should show interest. It should go without saying, but do not play on the computer or phone when having the discussion. Rather, show your interest with eye contact and relevant responses.
Actually listening when your employee is communicating is a part of being authentic, but it does deserve mentioning specifically. A big violation of this can be email and IM communication. Often managers are busy and answer back queries without having thoroughly read an email or IM from an employee. This can leave the lasting impression that management simply doesn’t care, which does not encourage good communication.
7) Use Team Building Exercises and Games
The internet has a wealth of information on team building exercises and games you can try. Some games are quite creative and involved, and some can be a bit silly. Just keep your team in mind when you select some to try.
The real point of these games is their ability to build trust within your team. They see everyone, regardless of title, come together on the same level to try to accomplish something while having fun. The games create a shared experience where employees can learn about each other outside the work environment.
Not all team building exercises need to be games either. Corporate volunteering is a way employees can rally together behind a cause. These can be a one-off day event or even a month-long fundraiser. Corporate volunteering also lends itself to some very positive public relations, so if you do select this route, ensure your marketing team makes full use of the opportunity for some good publicity.
A final note: Do not forget to set KPIs and review how your communication changes are impacting your employees. Metrics will enable you to use real data to influence how you alter your approach going forward. You can also communicate improvements better to management if you gauge your efforts. You can use employee engagement surveys, open rate percentages on company emails, employee turnover rates, and even general employee feedback as data.
Improved communication will lead to more satisfied and productive employees. This in turn will improve your business’ bottom line.
For information on how to encourage productivity in your staff, click here.