Improving workplace communication is one of the best investments you can make in your business.
Strong workplace communication can increase revenue, build a strong company culture, and hold on to top talent during The Great Resignation. But, on the flip side, improper or poor workplace communication practices cost businesses an estimated $1.2 trillion annually.
The loss of profits is not the only downside to ineffective communication:
Here are a few things to consider.
There are at least 1.2 trillion reasons why businesses should close communication gaps. With some work, leaders can improve communication, keeping employees happy while saving companies money and helping them to operate more efficiently and effectively.
Here are a few ways leaders can help their teams to close communication gaps effectively.
Before testing out new ideas, take the time to assess your current communication strategy so you can identify strengths and weaknesses.
Ask yourself what types of communication tools your organization uses. Write a list and be honest about the pros and cons. Then, gather feedback from employees on what works best for them.
Examining your current strategy will inform new approaches. Make a plan for how you will measure the success of your revised communication standards so you can continue to evaluate how things are going.
Every business has its own “sticky information” set, like internal knowledge, practices, biases, and company language. It takes time to learn these things. It can be frustrating to employees if they don’t have management support to get up to speed.
Orient employees to the unique details of company culture during onboarding and then reinforce this with continued training. Create internal documents to reference business methods and processes and make these accessible to employees.
The faster employees know the company's methods and culture, the quicker they can confidently participate in internal communications.
Poor communication creates uncertainty and confusion. Employees without clear guidelines from management lack the focus, drive, and confidence of those with defined work responsibilities.
Your team’s ability to collaborate will also suffer if they are out of sync with management or each other. Teams that lack direction fall behind in hitting project deadlines. That will trigger a domino effect of more unmet goals.
Your team will be more successful when they know what tasks they need to complete and when. A great way to keep your teams up-to-date and informed is to hold effective meetings (note the emphasis on “effective”). Always approach meetings with a clear and consistent agenda. Set parameters for time, topics, and goals and stick to them.
Give your employees the meeting agenda in advance so they can have some lead time to think about how to contribute and what questions they have. Then, at the end of the meeting, confirm that your team knows what short and long-term goals to focus on by sending out brief meeting notes and reminders.
It’s important to provide employees with consistent feedback. Check-in with your team regularly to let them know what is going well and where they can improve. Managers who offer actionable feedback show they care about the success and well-being of their employees
Communication is a two-way street. Managers should make it a habit to get feedback from employees. This two-way feedback fosters trust and transparency in the workplace, which goes a long way in building strong internal communication.
Encourage dialogue by inviting honest input and showing your appreciation. Work engagement and loyalty increase when employees have a strong relationship with their supervisors and feel valued for their input.
There are many digital tools available that aid teams in communicating quickly and efficiently. However, just because the tool is there doesn’t mean it’s the best option.
Let’s take email. It’s a godsend of quick, instantaneous information. Yet, people are so inundated with emails that they experience “email anxiety” at the thought of opening their inboxes.
Fortunately, there are many apps available that help employees organize and prioritize information in the workplace, including inboxes. These apps manage distractions, enhance focus, and maintain employee peace of mind.
Whether your team is in the office, hybrid, or remote, digital communication over messaging apps, chats, and email is a standard feature of today’s workplace.
While these tools allow for speedy communication throughout the day, they are also fraught with problems conveying tone or adding a human touch. For example, a manager might intend to send a helpful note, but it’s interpreted as micro-managing and cold.
Avoid these communication misfires by thinking of your audience when you send a message to your team. Before you hit send, take a moment to imagine reading the message from the receiver's perspective. Ask yourself how you would feel and then decide if some revisions are warranted.
When a message is received as intended, it’s easier to close communication gaps.
A final thought about workplace communication: leaders willing to be themselves in front of their teams are at the heart of successful communication. These leaders admit to mistakes, value honesty, and don’t feel the need to take charge of every conversation or own every idea.
Authoritarian leaders risk increasing communication gaps rather than closing them. Conversely, an authentic leader inspires employees to be more comfortable stepping up to contribute.
When you examine communication at your workplace, reflect on your communication practices as a leader. Take ownership of what you’re doing well and where you could improve.
Employees spend almost half of a 40-hour work week involved in communication, whether it’s reading emails, writing messages, or attending meetings. That’s a lot of time for things to go wrong — or right. You can ensure more things go well by taking a proactive and purposeful approach to improving workplace communication.
This approach will take time.
Building a culture of thriving communication is a long-term process involving trial and error, but it’s well worth it. Following the guidelines outlined here makes it possible to close communication gaps and see business revenue rise.
But, more importantly, you will nurture a more positive and efficient company culture for everyone.