How to Communicate Well in The Workplace - 4 June 2019

How to Communicate Well in The Workplace

Nothing is more important than effective communication in the workplace when it comes to guaranteeing company success.

How information is shared, accessed and actioned will define how well your team operates. But it means so much more than sharing information. Quality communication is vital to how people understand your goals. It's also critical in determining how engaged your staff are in their work.

Transparent and open communication can free many businesses from the issues the encounter that impede growth.

So how might businesses improve internals comms?

By creating a communications hub

This does not mean having a multi-channel communications process. It's more about creating a central place, where teams / individuals can share relevant information and updates. Somewhere to track important milestones.

Naturally, this is incredibly important for multi-disciplined teams involved in big projects and for those people working remotely, as it will give them direct access to the discussion and process , wherever they are working from.

There are many project management products on the market. Slack comes highly recommended, allowing communication to be split into channels (perfect for different teams and projects). It also enables simple file sharing and integrates easily with a vast number of widely used software such as Google Drive, Mailchimp, Outlook, Twitter and Teamline.

Notwithstanding enabling team collaboration on client projects, it's equally important to find the best way to share documents that underpin your business, such as company policies and branding assets/guidelines to your staff.

Be multi-channel

Just because you have created a central hub don't discard other channels and ways of working especially if you have teams performing different functions.

Quite rightly, standard email has a place. It can provide you with an important audit trail and keep those more on the outer edges of a project – the "nice to know" category - subliminally up-to-speed.

Setting up social media groups might also aid how some teams operate. Consider how your teams work and provide them with the best tools to succeed.

Set the rules

We live and work in a software-heavy environment and often use several different email providers/accounts, and messaging services such as WhatsApp and other social media platforms in our conversations.

In the work environment it would be a good idea to clearly set out which platforms should be used and how they should be used.  Select the email service you use as a company, where files are stored and what messaging services can be used in the work environment.

Also, lay out the kind of language and behaviour that is acceptable to your company – if appropriate in a policy or in a section within your employment contracts. Whilst employees should be trusted to act professionally, setting guidelines to refer to will make it will make it easier to enforce your standards if an issue arises.

Lead by example

Effective communication needs to start at the top. If you want an open and transparent communication process, you must lead by example.

Set the right tone daily, led by set the standards in your own messages and other written communications. Ensure your verbal communications sets the right professional tone and share information in the correct manner. If you aren't acting the way your company wants people to act, you can't expect employees to follow your rules.

Policies and rules are important but if your employees see how you strive to maintain certain standards, they will naturally follow.

Create education content for your team

Building on the point made above, make sure you have created standardised documents that lay out everything to do with your communications culture.

Build a raft of content that answers specific questions and outlines your processes. This will help to avoid constant time-wasting discussions on what needs to be done and how. This will also clear up time to focus on the really important communication.

Don't ignore real-world interactions

Technology is great and has made communication quick and easy, but you shouldn't discount the power of traditional communication and feedback. Real-world, human interaction is what creates the most solid and effective relationships, which are vital to quality communication.

Again, start from the top down, schedule regular company-wide meetings and encourage a process of feedback via team meetings and one-to-ones between staff and their line managers on a regular basis.

With tools like Skype, there is no excuse for this not to happen as face-to-face meetings can be facilitated by technology removing the barriers of distance and busy schedules.

Also, create an open-door culture so that employees feel they can actively come to you or their line-manager with any grievance no matter how big or small. Issues uncommunicated can fester and cause resentment leading to many different problems.

Be aware of the pitfalls

A program like Slack does sound amazing and may be the answer to your communication prayers. But it does come without its downsides.

It can cause communications overload, especially with large teams using it all at once. The message "Everyone is typing" is not uncommon. It's easy to drown in the constant flow of information and messages.

Email can sometimes be more manageable in terms of conversation flow, allowing you to respond in your own time. However, if there are several different conversations going on simultaneously, it can be easy to lose track or mis-communicate.

Face-to-face meetings can take too long. They can lose focus unless someone chairs them effectively – agenda or no.

So, understanding the value and shortcomings of each communication process, alongside proper planning regarding their use is vital.

It's clear that every business is different with different communication needs. But in today's world, it's well worth taking a step back and working out how you can harness the best technology has to offer and blend it with the right measure of constructive conversation and discussion.

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