A successful company is built on good communication. With strong communication throughout the workplace, all members of the team know what they are working towards and how their work contributes to the company’s overall goal. Not only that, good communication also builds trust, creates relationships and establishes a more productive environment.
If those reasons alone aren't compelling enough to make you want to implement strategies to improve communication in the workplace, strong communication also helps teams to face difficult conversations and overcome challenges.
On the other hand, poor communication leads to confusion, frustration and a lack of trust. If communication becomes really bad, it can also lead to staff turnover, absenteeism and lower levels of customer satisfaction, whilst also hindering company growth, development and revenue.
Thankfully, you can improve communication in the workplace without large investments of time or money. It just calls for strategies to be implemented and for leaders to commit to prioritising communication as a business goal.
Why is good communication in the workplace important?
The benefits of improving communication at work include:
Increasing efficiencyWhen a task isn’t communicated correctly, the task takes longer and the quality is lower; when instructions aren’t clear, it’s easier to become confused and make mistakes. With better communication, tasks will be done more quickly and to a higher standard, as employees will have the opportunity to ask questions and get the answers they need to do the job correctly in the first place. This reduces wasted time, effort and resources.
Problem-solvingIn the face of an issue, if a piece of information is passed poorly around the company, the message can quickly become misunderstood. If an incorrect or confused message is circulating the company, it will cause any issues to escalate further and may cause employees to become angry or upset. With a good communication process in place, you can quickly resolve any problems, but also, prevent them from happening in the first place.
Boosting innovationWhen your team communicates what they are working on with each other and share their thoughts and ideas, it allows others to build on these ideas too - producing a more creative result. Not only this, by communicating ideas, it encourages others to be more creative with their own work and helps to build more enthusiasm for new ideas.
Building stronger relationshipsHonest and open communication helps to bring people together. If employees enjoy talking with their teams, they are not only more likely to look forward to coming into work but also more eager to perform well, as they don’t want to let their colleagues down.
Additionally, when employees frequently communicate with their manager, they feel more able to share their thoughts or problems. This builds stronger teams and also increases how loyal employees are to their companies.
11 strategies to improve communication in the workplace
If these sound like benefits that you would like to experience in your business, try these steps to boost communication levels:
1. Have regular 1 to 1s with your staff
Put a regular time in the diary for individual meetings with employees. This could be weekly or monthly but frequent meetings are important. Having a set time in the diary helps to reassure employees as they know that they have a dedicated time to talk and ask questions. Catching up regularly allows the conversation to flow more easily and for topics of any size to be discussed. This will ensure that you hear about any concerns before they turn into bigger issues.
Within these meetings, discuss current priorities, what the next steps should be and if they are experiencing any problems. This is a also good time to discuss their happiness at work on a more personal level. This will engage your employees, ensuring that you are kept up to date with what is going on in the business, but also ensuring that they are happy and fulfilled at work.
2. Plan weekly team meetings
Not only should you be having 1 to 1s, you need to regularly get the whole team together too. Bringing teams together each week gives everyone a chance to catch up on what other members of the team are working on and to see if there is any opportunity for collaboration.
Regular meetings also give team members a chance to highlight any hold-ups that they may be experiencing. This improves efficiency for the whole team as anyone impacted by the delay can schedule this into their own workflow, or they can offer ways to help. Not only do these meetings increase efficiency and sense of community, they are also a great opportunity for managers to communicate any goals or targets to be met.
3. Always explain ‘why’
Without understanding why you are doing something, it can be difficult to give the intended result. To fully communicate a task and to achieve the desired end goal, you have to explain the ‘why’. Explain why you have given a certain task to a specific person, why it needs to be done in a particular way and why this task is important to the overall goals of the business. By communicating well with the person or team members, it shows that you haven’t just given a meaningless task at random, which as we all know, can be frustrating. Good communication can also bring more motivation as you can positively communicate and discuss the task, and explain how working on this will add to wider goals.
4. Offer constructive feedback
In the face of an issue or when reviewing a project - simply criticising your employees or offering useless feedback will only build frustration and could destroy any trust between you and your employees. Instead of focusing on any problems, look at why these may have happened and rather than criticising, try to help employees learn from their mistakes, offering constructive feedback. This not only helps to stop this from happening again, but also helps employees to maintain a sense of trust and belief that they can openly communicate with their manager.
5. Be sure to follow up meetings with notes and expectations
Meetings are a thing that many of us love to hate. As we all know, meetings can become long, lose direction and if you drop concentration for a moment - oops, you’ve somehow missed all of the important details.
Make sure that you follow up all meetings with notes and expectations. This allows you to clarify actions, include additional points that may have been missed and also ensures everyone understands the key takeaways. This also gives those who were in attendance a chance to ask any questions that may have arisen since the meeting.
If it was a group meeting, you can put names next to tasks in your follow up to ensure that everyone has a clear focus, bringing efficiency and clarity to what you do.
6. Recognise great work
Improving communication isn’t just about being able to discuss and deal with any issues, it’s important to know how to properly communicate a job well done too. Employees need to know that you see and recognise their hard work to make them feel valued and engaged.
Perkbox Recognition is a tool that easily allows everyone in the company to communicate and showcase great contributions, no matter the significance or size. This shines a spotlight on the people and teams going the extra mile and also allows you to incentivise behaviours that achieve your company’s goals. Properly communicating and recognising great work ensures that employees are engaged and are also openly communicating how they appreciate the efforts of the people around them - boosting both motivation and productivity.
7. Take time to listen
Prove to your employees that they can trust you by showing an interest in their lives outside of work and be open enough to share some of your interests, too. When your employees know more about you, outside just being their manager, they will start to trust and be more open with you. If you show that you are there to listen and take an interest, they will be more likely to communicate any issues in the future as you have built a level of trust.
8. Be mindful of how you’re communicating
In the world of slack and email, sometimes it can feel like we’ve forgotten the art of face-to-face conversation. It can be difficult to convey tone of voice digitally and some people are less receptive to certain types of communication.Don’t rely on communicating online. When you are talking in person, make sure that your body language shows that you are listening. Stop typing or attempting to multi-task and give your full attention - employees will be more likely to come to you again if they feel that you care what they have to say.
9. Share important news and company updates
Hearing company updates second hand from a colleague and not from a manager can make employees feel out of the loop and undervalued. News and updates may impact what employees are communicating with customers or impact the goals and targets they are working towards, so it's vital that they have this knowledge.
By keeping employees up to date with any important happenings, employees will not only be able to do their job properly, but they will also feel more engaged.
10. Regularly ask for feedback and act on it
Frequently asking for feedback from your staff is one of the best ways to improve and maintain communication. But as much as you might want to check in with how all of your employees are feeling about all the different areas of your business on a regular basis, it’s likely going to be very difficult to do in person.
Perkbox Insights is an agile pulse survey tool and a new way for business and HR leaders to keep up communication with their staff. Insights conducts short, frequent surveys with confidential questions - these allow you to maintain communication with all employees and even gain thoughts that some of your employees may not feel comfortable to discuss face-to-face.
By gaining this feedback you find out what your employees really care about. When you act on this feedback you show that you are listening and that their thoughts are important to you - this will not only improve communication but will also increase employee engagement.
11. Be mindful of each others strengths and weaknesses
Knowing someone’s strengths and weaknesses highlights how best to communicate with them and also, what motivates them. Although when you get to know people well, their strengths and weaknesses become clear - it can often be hard to get people to show their true personality at work.
As a solution, plan a team session and get everyone involved in a personality type test (there are a range available online). Finding out the different personality types in your team will highlight the best methods of communication to use for different people. Not only will this teach you the most effective ways to communicate with your colleagues, it could also give you answers as to why you may have been unsuccessfully communicating with your team in the past.