Improve communication with staff; improve your business

Let’s not kid ourselves: when it comes to business, communication is an integral part of the process. It can be the difference between a project failing or succeeding; it can help foster a happy, productive workplace; it can make sure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Communication, however, isn’t easier, as any boss will tell you. Below, we take a look a some ways you can improve your workplace communication and get your business functioning at full capacity.

Open dialogue policy

Why all the secrets? There will be some things that you’re not able to tell your staff, but for the most people, their knowing the important details about the direction of the company isn’t going to do you any harm. If there are some things that you can’t share yet, then you can least explain why you can’t say anything. An office culture that’s shrouded in secrecy doesn’t do anybody any good. You want to promote a sharing, open communication policy within the workplace.

Start at the top

And of course, if you want open communication, then it needs to come from you. You’re the boss; nobody else gets to decide the company culture other than you. If you’re not a natural communicator, then read up on how some of the best minds have connected with their employees. As well as the people below you, it’s also imperative that you’re open and in constant dialogue with the other leaders in your organization. There should be channels of communication between all major players in a company, and that means across all lanes. Don’t insist on a chain of command when it comes to talking; it’ll have the opposite effect and will make a business more closed and reserved.

Internal communication software

Your staff wants to talk to each other. The least you could do is make it easy for them to do so. There’s plenty of communication software that you can incorporate into your business, which will make it easier for colleagues to talk. There are other benefits to having everything in one program too. It’ll increase productivity, as all your workers will only be using one software, rather than different communication tools. It’ll also make it easier for you to send out group messages.

Outside events

There’s only so much that people can talk to one another when they’re at work. If they have different coffee break times, they might never get to chat informally with the other people in the office. As such, it’s important that you arrange events that’ll allow your workers to get to know one another without the pressure of work. Hosting an after-work drinks gathering on a Friday night (let the company pick up the tab), or arranging outings will allow everyone to relax, and, more importantly, improve communication across teams. Be careful not to make attendance at these events mandatory, though, as that’ll only have the opposite effect.

Communication devices

Your business isn’t just working the usual 9-5 hours. No business is anymore; because of the fast-paced nature of the business world, you need to be ready for action at all hours of the day – and of course, you need to be able to reach your employees. Some employees (rightly) don’t feel comfortable using their personal mobile phones for work purposes, so use to find a device that’ll be suitable for business operations. Your workers won’t mind having a phone that’s just for work, especially if you’re the one paying for it.

Foster communication

Is your office setup to enable conversation? If everyone’s working at their own desks, facing away from each other, with no other space in the building to chat, then the answer will be a definitive ‘no.’ Moving forward, look at creating a space that allows your workers to collaborate with one another. It’s much easier to focus on the ideas if you’re working together in a room that looks like it was designed for that purpose, rather than trying to find a moment’s peace near the coffee station.

Only communicate when it’s necessary

With some leaders, it’s not a lack of communication that’s the problem: it’s having too much communication! If you’re relaying every piece of information that comes to your mind, then your workers are going to have trouble figuring out the critical information from the details that can be ignored. In any case, your workers are going to have a lot of things to juggle – phone calls, emails, and meetings – and they could do without hearing the bits and pieces that might, with a little bit of thought, have been left unsaid.

Employee feedback benefits

You might be a solo entrepreneur, one who doesn’t need validation from others to know that you’re doing a good job but don’t assume that the same rule will apply to all of your workers. Having one on one feedback meetings with your workers will bring many benefits, not least providing a chance for you to talk to each other without distractions. Your workers can only know what you tell them. A meeting will also give them a chance to air any concerns or ideas that they’ve had, too.

Be consistent with your communication

Consistency is a vastly underrated quality when it comes to entrepreneurs. Once you’ve established your communication policies, make sure you stick to them. Trust can only be established if your workers can come to depend on how you are as an individual. If in your quest to improve communication, you tell everyone that you have an open door policy, you need to abide by your own rules. It’s also a good idea to have a set time each week when you talk to all your employees, just briefly, about the state of the company and the objectives for the weeks and months ahead.

Getting personal

Remember: your workers aren’t drone bees, just there to do whatever you say. You should make an effort to get to know them on a personal level, too. If you don’t, then they’ll see right through a ‘let’s all communicate’ initiatives, because it’ll look like the only thing you want to improve is the business. Of course, there’s such a thing as getting too personal, and no-one’s recommending that. It’s just about expressing an interest in their personal life, and concern for any troubles they may be going through.

Learn how to listen

Communication is a two-way street. You’re not just trying to get your employees to pay more attention to you. If you want to have healthy communication in your workplace, then it’s essential that you learn how to listen to your workers. Nothing discourages an employee more than having good ideas that are routinely ignored. If you’ve hired the best staff to begin with, then there’ll be full of ideas that can push the company forward.

The lighthearted approach

It’s important to remember that business doesn’t have to be serious all the time. And indeed, one of the best ways to encourage a casual, open environment is to be…casual and open in your conduct. There’s a time and a place to be serious, but there’s nearly always space to be relaxed. As long as the work is getting done to a high standard, then it’s okay to let workers communicate and chat in the office. It’ll make it more fun, too, which is a big factor in workplace productivity.

Businesses can often struggle with their communication. Take the steps above, and you’ll notice an improvement in no time.