In nearly every aspect of life (both professional and personal), effective communication is crucial to success and happiness. Relationships cannot thrive without open communication, and the same goes for businesses both large and small. The quality of a business’s internal communication often says a lot about the company itself. Let poor communication get worse, and your organization’s days may be numbered. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can improve communication in the workplace.
1. Check in with employees on a regular basis.
Checking in with employees is essential. Meet with them regularly either in-person or online every few weeks or months, inviting them to discuss their thoughts on their projects, tasks, and the organization as a whole. They want to be heard, and they want to share their thoughts and opinions. This will improve internal communication throughout your entire organization, as well as empower your employees and keep them comfortable in their positions.
2. Make internal knowledge and documents easily available.
For newer employees, it can be difficult to learn the ropes of an organization and how it truly operates. Since most companies work from a specific set of internal knowledge, there’s usually already a built-in training program at your disposal. Making internal knowledge easily available via documentation on your company intranet is a great way to keep effective communication flowing.
3. Implement social intranet software.
When attempting to improve workplace communication, social intranet software is at the top of the list. Comprised of a variety of tools that can help improve daily business processes, an intranet also features a robust employee communications platform that allows for easy retrieval of old conversations. It also empowers employees to bounce ideas off each other in a judgement-free environment. The popularity of social intranet software is growing at an exponential rate, and the technology is continuing to move in a forward direction.
4. Have an “open door” policy.
One of the biggest obstacles that employees face is how they can communicate with managers and CEOs. They may not feel comfortable approaching the boss, and as a result of this apprehension, many employees may choose to avoid bringing up important points, thus blocking the flow of effective communication. Having an “open door” policy where your employees feel comfortable bringing anything to your attention, at any time, can be immensely beneficial to your business’s internal communication, not to mention make you more approachable. It is also a great way of motivating employees in your organization. But if they’re not approaching you, always remember #1 above … check in with employees on a regular basis.
5. Take advantage of social media.
Social media has proven to be a powerful aid for businesses to communicate with customers, yet it often goes overlooked how effective it can actually be to improve communication in the workplace. Employees can like, comment, and share with one another interesting posts that may relate to your organization. You can use social intranet software in the same manner.
Allow employees to share their interests with each other to create meaningful, work-related conversations. This is a great way to combine relationship-building with your business’s goals and philosophies.
6. Identify a common goal.
Within every organization, there exists a common goal, which can depend heavily upon the focus of the business. As it is important for your employees to be on the same page, identifying and clarifying common goals can come along with a number of benefits. After all, there’s nothing more important for a team than for each of its members to have a similar mindset.
7. Send out an internal newsletter.
When things get busy, it may be difficult to keep tabs on what’s happening in your organization. An internal newsletter is an excellent tool for ensuring that every employee is up on recent happenings, whether they be small or monumental in nature. Typically, internal newsletters work best when they’re sent out weekly, but you can experiment with how often you push them out.
8. Rearrange your office.
If you’re working within a physical office, one of the best steps you can take to improve workplace communication is to rearrange the way it is designed. Many offices make use of cubicles and partitions, for example, which can isolate employees and put a damper on effective communication. Rearranging your office to make it more “open” in design will help open up the floodgates for employee communication and collaboration, not to mention make the space more enjoyable to work in.
9. Focus on company culture.
Focus on company culture and integrate it into your workday. This can be a great way to make employees feel more connected to each other and the organization itself. You can do this by learning about employee engagement ideas, incorporating your branding into office decor, your social intranet, or your documentation, among other pieces of collateral. If there are any core philosophies that your business embodies, don’t hesitate to reiterate them on a regular basis.
10. Allow your employees the opportunity to recharge.
Working long hours can be exhausting, especially when mindset is considered. When you’re in need of a recharge, it can be very difficult to communicate effectively with others. Give your employees the opportunity to step away when need be. Whether this means taking an extra hour for lunch or simply asking for the occasional personal day, you’ll get better results out of granting your employees the chance to reboot themselves than running too tight a shift.
11. Strengthen connections between managers and employees.
In many organizations, managers and employees work hand-in-hand each other. This isn’t always the case, however, and it’s not uncommon for employees to simply report to managerial staff with status updates. By encouraging stronger, more collaborative relationships between employees and managers, you’ll be doing an important thing for improving communication in the workplace.
12. Place importance on regular content creation.
Creating content for blogs and wikis can have both internal and external implications, most of which will be positive for your organization. By encouraging your employees to create and publish quality content, you’ll be empowering them to inject their own personality into the company, which in and of itself is a form of improved employee communication. Plus, employees can “like’ and comment upon their coworkers posts — another effective tool for fostering a productive discussion.
13. Incorporate mobile technologies.
Today, more and more people are using smartphones and tablets for everything. Mobile technologies aren’t going away, and since many modern employees find themselves outside of the office on a regular basis, embracing them now is of the utmost importance. This could mean creating apps specific to your business or using mobile technology for conferencing among a variety of other approaches.
14. Attend conferences as a team.
Just about every industry has its own set of conferences throughout the year. Attending conferences as a team is an excellent way to open up communication and discuss with employees how your organization might be able to move forward in your industry. As with any type of retreat, conferences can be great for team-building, and they don’t have to expensive or difficult to attend if you plan things out ahead of time.
15. Put orders in writing.
Putting things in writing is the only way to make sure that everyone understands an order properly without misconstruing things. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a large number of employees. Always live by the philosophy that if it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.
16. Schedule daily status meetings.
The more you can do to remind every team member of their tasks and the current status of a project, the better. Daily status meetings can be held either in person, via teleconferencing or via the web, and they don’t have to last for more than 10 minutes. If you have the luxury of having everyone on your team located in the same time zone, try to schedule a meeting for the same time every morning.
17. Identify and reach out to shy employees.
No matter how you cut it, some people simply tend to be shy, even if they’re adept at what they do. Identifying and reaching out to shy employees can help break down the barriers of workplace communication they may have imposed for themselves, especially if you show a genuine interest in them. Don’t forget, however, that this can be a lengthy process — shyness doesn’t dissipate overnight, after all.
18. Use an anonymous “suggestion box.”
As old-school as it may sound, this is another way to improve communication at work. You can benefit greatly from setting a “suggestion box” in your office that allows for employees to anonymously comment on things they’d like to see improved. People aren’t always comfortable bringing up their concerns, after all, and are more likely to do so if they can take an anonymous approach. If you don’t work within a physical office, you can direct your employees to a virtual suggestion box, which can serve the same purpose.
19. Hold teamwork in high regard.
Many employees like to work on projects by themselves simply because they don’t feel comfortable collaborating with their coworkers. This is exactly the type of barrier you’re trying to break down, which is why you should stress the importance of teamwork at all times. Asking your employees to take a team-based (rather than solo) approach may cause some initial discomfort, but the benefits of doing so are undeniable.
20. Take inventory of your own communication skills.
Every CEO wants their employees to communicate effectively, but what about your own communication skills? Most people can admit they can work on how they communicate with others, and taking inventory of how you personally approach communication can be immensely beneficial. You want to serve as a model leader, and the only way to do so is if you yourself work on improving as well.
21. Ask questions.
Regardless of the type of organization you run, it’s safe to assume that every employee perceives and internalizes information in their own way. Asking your employees how they like to receive information (through the social intranet, email, newsletters, etc.) can help you create a more effective plan for regular communication at work. In addition, your staff will appreciate the fact that you’re willing to meet them halfway, which bodes well for employee morale.
22. Be appreciative!
Improved employee communication can come along with a number of benefits, and it’s important to take a moment to appreciate what you’ve achieved after you’ve put in the work. This is a great way to let employees know just how much of an impact open and effective communication has on an organization. Either way, celebrating what you’ve achieved will only boost the moods of everyone.
Always keep in mind that trying to improve workplace communication within your organization is a time-consuming process that is best approached by using a number of the above tips at the same time. If you put in the work, however, you’re bound to see positive results.