We’ve all been in a workplace where the lack of communication caused numerous problems. Low morale, high turnover, and employees not getting along, just name a few. As entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders, we all know how important communication is to the health of our companies. However, communication breakdowns are still a common occurrence in many workplaces.
It is essential to prioritize clear and open communication with your employees. It creates a sense of trust and transparency within the workplace. Employees who feel that their ideas and opinions are valued are more likely to be engaged and motivated to contribute to the organization’s success. As we know, having a culture of good employee engagement and high job satisfaction is one of the best ways to retain your top talent.
Having great communication habits also helps to clarify expectations and goals. This means that employees know what is expected of them and can work towards meeting those expectations. It also helps to reduce confusion and misunderstandings, which can lead to a more productive and efficient workplace.
So let’s explore some strategies for improving communication with employees in your organization.
Have 1-on-1 Meetings
Whether you have a small team or a large one, having individual meetings with employees is important. When you conduct one-on-one meetings, you gain a deeper understanding of the employee’s work, concerns, and goals. For your employee, this is beneficial because it allows them to express their thoughts and feelings about their job.
These meetings also provide a space for managers to give personalized recognition and feedback. Many times it is good to recognize the performance of an individual during meetings or in email communications. However, a one-on-one setting allows you to give more detail and praise. It also gives the employee a chance to respond to that recognition or express gratitude. This is all a part of creating a culture where your employees can be satisfied and encouraged in their work.
Choose the Right Words
- Limit the use of the word “Perfect”-When possible limit the use of the word perfect and use more realistic, yet positive, feedback for your team. For instance, say something like, “I loved your creativity and input on this project. You achieved the goal of this project and went above and beyond to make it successful.” In taking out the word ‘perfect,’ you didn’t make the success of someone any less important but put it into a more realistic and achievable way that will keep your employee happy and ready to tackle their next project.
- Rewording “Failure”-Along the opposite side of the spectrum, the word ‘failure’ is another one that sets up your team to feel as though their efforts were for nothing and futile. Saying something like, “We may not have succeeded in the way we wanted, but we will learn from this and continue our efforts in this project,” can keep your team motivated and focused on achieving the best result, without the negative feeling that they ‘failed’ you.
- Try to avoid saying “You are wrong”-When you tell someone, “You are wrong,” you almost immediately put them in a defensive mode and ready to attack. Instead, for example, you can say, “While I do see where you are coming from with that mindset, I disagree with it and would like to discuss this further to ensure that we can come to an understanding.”
Be Open and Honest
Being open and honest with employees is critical to building trust and fostering a positive work environment. When employees feel they can trust their leaders and have transparency in the workplace, they are more likely to be engaged and productive. When leaders are not open and honest the opposite happens. Employee engagement tends to drop and productivity suffers.
Open and honest communication can also help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. Typically, when leadership hides or misrepresents important information, it breeds mistrust. Employees feel as though managers, owners, and supervisors are not people of their word and are not looking out for the employees’ best interests.
Additionally, by being transparent about company goals, plans, and challenges, employees can better understand their role in achieving those goals and feel more invested in the company’s success.
Listening is an important communication skill in any relationship. And that goes for business relationships as well. When you listen to your employees, it fosters a culture of open communication and trust. Employees often have valuable insights and ideas that can improve your business operations and drive innovation. By listening to their concerns, their perspective on their jobs, and their ideas, you can improve your business from all angles.
Also, listening to employee concerns and feedback can help you address any issues before they get out of hand. You may discover gaps in customer service or unresolved internal conflicts that need to be addressed. When employees speak about these things they are not just complaining. They may be perceiving a potential problem that leadership may not be aware of.
Actively listening to your employees shows that you value their opinions and are committed to creating a positive work environment. Ultimately, engaging with your employees in this way can lead to increased employee engagement, productivity, and overall business success.
Choose the Right Tech
Communication is not just talking with your team. In the modern workplace, collaboration is communication. And, collaborating is made easier when using the right software. To improve communication with your employees, utilize the right technology. Even if your team is not remote, make sure you use the most effective tech for your type of business.
Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet enable remote workers to connect and communicate seamlessly. They allow for face-to-face interactions, screen sharing, and collaboration, which can improve team dynamics and help to build stronger relationships.
Here are some of the best workplace communication apps available:
Instant messaging apps
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Chat for Google Workspace
- Mattermost (for self-hosted teams)
- Zoho Projects
Feedback and recognition
Offering feedback to employees is an essential part of effective leadership and helps to support employee development. Providing timely and specific feedback can help employees understand their strengths and weaknesses. Regular feedback also helps employees understand their progress and how they can grow within the company.
Offering feedback is especially important when you have underperforming employees. As a part of the performance plan, feedback helps give those employees the information they need to improve performance. One of the worst feelings for a motivated employee is not knowing where they stand in the eyes of leadership. Consistent feedback, without micromanaging, gives them insight into how well they are doing their jobs.
Update Them Frequently
No one likes to be in the dark about what is going on in their workplace. When industry and workplace changes occur, there are usually more questions than answers. That is why it is important to update your employees frequently on company, industry, and even societal and economic news that may impact their jobs.
Updating your team on events surrounding their position at the company can stop workplace gossip before it starts. When things like a recession or job cuts are circulating news outlets, communicate with your team about how that affects your business. Let them know what the company is doing to ensure that its people are taken care of.
Be honest about what may or may not happen when a new leader is hired or fired. Update them monthly, weekly, or quarterly about the health of the company. All of these things will help make employees feel like they are in the loop.
Ask for Feedback
Asking for feedback from employees is an important aspect of effective leadership communication. It shows that you value their opinions and insights, and demonstrates a commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive work environment. Employee feedback can provide valuable insights into the company’s operations and identify areas for improvement, leading to increased efficiency and innovation.
Many times, leaders don’t fully understand problems within their workforce. Things like an employee issue or even when a few employees are not getting along can be missed by management. When you ask for feedback, you get insight into the company from your employees’ points of view. This feedback can help address any concerns or issues, which can prevent potential problems. It can also be used to improve your overall business and its culture.
Lack of good communication in the workplace can lead to low employee engagement, high turnover, loss of productivity and profits. All things leaders should avoid like the plague. Improving communication with your employees is a good way to prevent these things from happening. Use every available opportunity and tool to make sure that good communication habits within your organization are a priority.
Co-written by: Summer Anderson