How To Improve Workplace Communication
Updated on July 13, 2023
How To Improve Workplace Communication
It’s common knowledge that good communication can make a critical difference in the success of any endeavor.
But what can you do to improve open communication in your workplace? This guide explains the positive effects of professional communication skills and offers some tips on how to improve them in your organization.
Why Is It Important to Have Effective Workplace Communication?
Without effective communication, workplaces cannot function. No matter what industry you’re in, accomplishing the tasks of the day involves delegating responsibilities, reporting progress, and adjusting to circumstances as they arise.
Though this may seem obvious, businesses that do not practice good communication strategies will experience more mistakes, a higher likelihood of error based on misunderstanding, less employee cohesiveness, and lower job satisfaction.
Lack of good communication can also cause distrust between different teams or levels of the organization, and will ultimately impact your customer base as well. If employees aren’t clear on priorities, they won’t be able to provide the top-notch customer service that will make your business stand out.
How To Improve Workplace Communication
Workplace communication is essential to running a successful business, but what can you do to improve communication in your organization? Here are a few tips.
1. Schedule One-To-One Check-Ins
Even if you have an open-door policy, create a consistent time during the workday to check in with employees one-to-one.
Depending on your business, this could be once per week or once per month, but setting aside time to hear how each member of your team is doing will help you keep your finger on the pulse of company culture.
One-to-ones are a great time to work with employees to set short-term goals and priorities, as well as ensure they feel equipped to fulfill their responsibilities. This can also help with employee retention, as it creates an opportunity for employees to share any issues or concerns in time for them to be addressed.
2. Schedule Team Meetings
Team meetings are equally important to one-on-one chats, as they help ensure a coordinated and cooperative effort through verbal communication.
Organizing a time to address your employees all together can help build a sense of cohesiveness and trust between management and employees. Though creating a culture of trust takes time, regular meetings can expedite this process and facilitate more frequent communication.
Ask employees to share what they’re working on, their goals, and any successes or failures they’ve experienced lately. Encouraging this sort of open communication can increase transparency and positively impact camaraderie and collaboration across the organization.
3. Take Notes
Extensive notes usually aren’t necessary, but it can be useful to record the main points of a meeting in a place accessible to all employees.
Having written objectives and goals can keep everyone on the same page while maintaining a timeline of successes and accomplishments to look back at over the year.
4. Facilitate a Supportive Environment
If you are trying to create a highly communicative workplace environment, it is essential for employees to feel safe to actually communicate honestly.
From a manager’s standpoint, this involves being open to feedback and encouraging employees to come to you with ideas for process improvements or any productivity blockers that you can help remedy.
If they fear being reprimanded, employees may hold back valuable information that could be a great benefit to the manager. Additionally, a supportive environment where employees aren’t embarrassed to ask obvious questions will prevent miscommunications and costly mistakes down the line.
5. Share the Reasons Behind Instructions or Policies
Trust is essential to workplace communication, as well as a leader’s ability to delegate effectively. Still, if you instruct employees to complete tasks without any context or explanation, they may feel frustrated and unmotivated to produce their best work.
Though sharing the entire rationale for every task is not necessary, providing employees with an idea of how their work fits into the bigger picture can be an excellent motivating factor.
6. Give Constructive Feedback
You can’t help your organization make progress without providing critical feedback, but it is essential to make sure all feedback is constructive. That means that critiques are based on quantifiable facts or concrete observations rather than personal judgment.
Another element of constructive feedback is being open to an employee’s response, and possibly helping them figure out a solution to the problem. This shouldn’t feel like a trial, but a collaborative conversation about what’s not working and how it can be improved.
7. Encourage Two-Way Communication
Sometimes the experience of company culture is unique to people in different roles, and business owners or managers may need to be made aware of particular workplace dynamics.
Managers and executives may treat each other respectfully, for instance, while condescending to associates and interns. Get regular employee feedback on company culture, the workplace environment, and the behavior of their superiors.
A 360 survey can help you see the whole picture by collecting feedback from multiple perspectives. This often provides valuable insight into areas in need of attention and ensures all team members have a voice when it comes to workplace relations.
8. Be Transparent
Honest communication shows respect to employees and clarifies expectations regarding compensation, performance, and promotions.
Though some conversations may be difficult, employees will appreciate their employer providing feedback and noting areas of improvement for future career growth.
Transparency might be trickier, as this strategy benefits some organizational cultures more than others. Align your commitment to transparency with your goals for company culture; though honesty is always appreciated, you may not want to share all information with your team.
Though transparency can boost your ability to build relationships with your employees, if you want some inter-staff competition, it may not be the best approach.
9. Build Relationships
Within professional boundaries, make an effort to get to know your team members as people, rather than just employees. When employees feel that their supervisors care about them on a human level, they’re often more likely to work hard and genuinely care about the work they’re producing.
On the other hand, if employees feel they are “just a number,” they won’t be motivated to accomplish anything more than the bare minimum required to get their paycheck. Personal relationships can also increase team morale and job satisfaction.
10. Recognize Achievements
Recognizing and celebrating individual and group achievements makes employees feel noticed and appreciated and motivates them to continue to work hard.
Specific recognitions assure employees that management is paying attention, encouraging them to improve, while group recognition rewards teamwork and collaboration, strengthening bonds and boosting morale.
Employee recognition does not have to only come from managers, as peer-to-peer encouragement can boost morale and improve teamwork. To create a culture of peer-to-peer recognition, begin by encouraging recognition based on the company’s core values.
11. Utilize Communication Tools
As remote work and hybrid working models become increasingly common, it’s important to recognize that employees may sometimes be in different physical locations.
While face-to-face communication may seem more productive, it’s crucial to ensure that all employees feel valued and included, regardless of where they are working from. Effective communication requires understanding individual needs and preferences.
While messaging tools like Slack and other instant messaging software may not be a direct replacement for in-person meetings, they are still effective tools for sharing files and communicating on the go.
Video conferencing apps like Zoom also provide a visual connection between employees, even if they are not physically in the same place.
Workplace communication functions best when it is conducted using multiple strategies simultaneously. Most organizations will thrive with a combination of one-to-one communication and all-hands meetings, as well as general encouragement to approach management with any questions or concerns.
Overall, a supportive environment goes a long way in facilitating communication, as employees need to feel comfortable to speak their minds and contribute honestly to discussions or requests for feedback.
Managers and other leaders often set the tone for communication, so ensure your leadership is supportive and encouraging of high levels of collaboration and communication across all channels.
FAQs on Improving Workplace Communication
Some common communication challenges in the workplace include language barriers, cultural differences, technology issues, lack of clarity or understanding, and different communication styles or preferences.
Effective workplace communication strategies include clear and concise emails, active listening and asking questions in meetings, and facilitating different forms of communication to ensure all team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.
Some tips for communicating with coworkers or team members include being respectful and professional, actively listening to their ideas and concerns, acknowledging their contributions, providing constructive feedback, and choosing the appropriate communication channel for the message.
Begin by actively listening to both sides and acknowledging their concerns. Then, work to find common ground, propose solutions, and follow up to ensure the conflict has been resolved. It is also important to remain respectful and professional throughout the conflict resolution process.
Examples of inappropriate workplace communication include using offensive language or gestures, making inappropriate comments or jokes, engaging in gossip or rumors, or bullying or harassing colleagues.