Each member of your team is like a link in a chain. If one person isn’t communicated to properly and can’t complete their task, the chain is broken – which is the worst possible scenario when you’re running a business. Here are our top tips for improving communication skills and processes in your workplace.
The Importance of Effective Communication in the Workplace
Good communication skills are an integral part of any well-functioning workplace. Communication can help clear tension or conflict, increase employee engagement and make sure your team are performing as effectively as possible. Whether you’re looking to improve your company culture, develop better team dynamics or relieve tensions in the office, communication is key.
Potential Communication Barriers in the Workplace
If communication is such an integral part of a business, what kind of things might act as a barrier to this?
Unclear InstructionsIf a brief or instruction isn’t clear, the person performing this task might do it wrong. And then have to do it again. Get it right the first time and this time could be spent completing another important task. You’re paying employees for their time and work, so poor communication can be a loss for your business.
Irregular ConversationsIf you don’t communicate important business messages to team leaders, and they don’t then communicate these messages to their teams, lots of things will get missed. It might seem like important events are happening out of the blue or they won’t understand why you’re asking them to do a particular thing.
A Lack of ConfidenceIf your team isn’t comfortable with you or each other, they might struggle to get their point across or even work together. This friction between teams can lead to a blockage in communicating important messages.
How to Improve Communication in the Workplace
Communication Skills TrainingWe’ve already discussed how important workplace training is for your business’s success. Our recent survey revealed that over half of the UK workforce is prepared to leave their job if no training is provided – so stepping up your development process to create a rewarding environment has never been more important!
You can find a range of communication skills courses online – or, if you’re looking to keep costs low, you could appoint a member of your team to train up other team members.
Skills covered in this kind of training include:
• Open mindedness
• Friendliness/Tone of voice/Brand values
• Non-verbal communication
• Interpersonal communication
Regular 1-2-1sAnother way to encourage effective communication in the workplace is to give employees the chance to be heard. Regular 1-2-1s give staff a chance to voice what they think has gone well and how they can see their role progressing. 1-2-1 meetings are important because they can help build a better relationship between managers and employees and can keep employees more engaged and satisfied with their job. Both of which are essential for good communication.
Team Building OpportunitiesStarted to notice rifts between different departments? You can combat that uncomfortableness and help nurture a relationship between members of your workforce by organising team building days or activities.
Examples of team building activities you can organise are:
• Charity bake sale/buffet
• Scavenger hunt
• Volunteer in the community
• Nights out/evening meals
• Zombie runs
• Sports day
• Escape rooms
• Trampoline park
Q&A with Senior ManagementAnother way of breaking down a communication barrier between employees and management is to hold monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions. These are where representatives from each department are invited to a meeting to ask senior management any burning questions they might have or put forward suggestions.
It’s then up to the representative to feed back to their team what has been discussed. This is something we do at instantprint which has proven extremely effective!
Internal Online Communication ToolsFor teams that work on projects together and need to be able to ask questions at the touch of a button, online communication software like Slack and Skype for Business are fantastic tools.
To help make sure employees are communicating effectively you can set up groups and use features like polls. As well as increasing teamwork, open communication like this can also lead to less confusion around instructions – got a question? Just ask!
Seasonal Company-Wide EventsEffective workplace communication is a piece of cake – no, literally. Bake sales and company-wide fundraising events are a fantastic way of getting everyone together. You can host them annually at certain times of the year – like a Halloween fancy dress competition, or an Easter bake sale.
As counter-productive as it sounds, you could even pit departments against each other for some friendly competition. Like the team building activities, these kinds of events are great at building relationships and encouraging regular conversations between all employees.
To communicate your events, pop posters up around the office and print some table talkers to go in the middle of everyone’s desks.
Set an Agenda for MeetingsEver been to a meeting and left none the wiser? According to Harvard Business Review, 70% of senior managers surveyed agreed that meetings are unproductive and inefficient, with 65% saying meetings keep them from completing their own work.
The key to effective communication in meetings is planning ahead. Send an agenda ahead of the meeting to let others know what’s going to be discussed.
By the end of the meeting you should have decided on clear actions to take after the meeting – and everyone should know the plan. Make sure to finalise all meetings by asking around to make sure everyone knows the next step.
Communicate with Body LanguageYour body language can communicate a lot of different things. Your behaviour, mannerisms, expressions and even how fast you talk can all imply different things. That’s why it’s so important to consider what your actions are saying in business communications. Here are a few examples:
• Facial expressions – happiness, sadness, excitement or boredom, these emotions can be written all over your face
• Body movement and posture – how you’re sitting or walking can show confidence or shyness
• Eye contact – show colleagues you’re listening by making eye contact during conversation
• Touch – depending on your relationship with the person you’re talking to, touch can either be comforting or condescending!
Nonverbal communication can be just as telling as verbal. Keep this in mind to make sure nothing is misinterpreted.
Prove That You're TrustworthyFor a message to sink in, it needs to be believable. Make sure employees know that you’ll follow through so that they’ll trust you. This will make employees a lot more willing and comfortable to come to you with any issues they might have.
Tell Them WhyThat task you just asked someone to complete – would you be able to answer if they asked ‘why’? By communicating why something is important, you’re actually making the task more engaging because you’re sharing how this task ties in with the business’s wider goals.
Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. Apply these 10 easy tips to see a huge boost in productivity, teamwork and positive workplace culture. And while you’re here, why not check out our small business owner’s guide to achieving work-life balance?