Communication is something that we do passively – like breathing. We talk to our spouses, family, friends, co-workers without even realizing! While it seems like we’ve been doing it effortlessly throughout our lives, to communicate effectively requires some skill. Knowing the right words to say, listening and understanding what is being said, and getting our point across can make or break a relationship. While miscommunication can lead to simple arguments at home, it can lead to much more serious issues at work including: decreased productivity, unmotivated employees, increased employee turnover and may ultimately ruin a great company.
Communication is not just important, it’s absolutely necessary for any type of relationship – including those in the workplace.
To improve communication throughout your entire company, you need to implement a few simple changes that may ultimately boost productivity, motivate employees, and improve retention rates.
Here’s our Top 3 Tips for Better Workplace Communication
1. Embrace the art of conversation
Technology is awesome because it improves speed, saves time, and is more convenient ! But with all of the gadgets we use, we’ve become slaves to our screens and essentially have neglected the art of conversation. People spend less time talking in person and more time communicating through e-mail, text messages, and social networks. And what’s even crazier – employees rather e-mail a co-worker who may be sitting a few desks away than just taking a few steps to talk to them.
Great communication includes verbal and non-verbal language, but when the non-verbal (facial expressions and body-language) is taken out of the equation, misinterpreting a message can be quite common. How many times have you sent a well-written message with great intentions only to have it misconceived by the reader? Or what about when you spend time writing a very detailed and articulate e-mail and only receive a short response? That can easily be misinterpreted as a lack of interest. So here’s a simple fix for better conversations: Pick up the phone every once in a while and make a call. Walk over to your colleague and speak to them face-to-face! Or schedule a meeting.
2. Value your Employee’s Opinions
Far too often, employee’s are left out of all the major conversations. When companies undergo new changes, the employees are usually the last to find out and the most affected. At some point in time, we may have felt unappreciated or disrespected at work, but luckily it wasn’t broadcasted on national television. Last month, on ABC’s Live!, Co-host Michael Strahan announced he was leaving to join Good Morning America on air. His co-host Kelly Ripa, learned about this change at the same time as the public and took a leave of absence. Upon her return she said:
“What transpired though over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace.”
Why didn’t they inform her prior to this? This type of situation usually results in resentment for the management and can lead to employees quitting.
Great organizations should trust & listen to their employees while encouraging transparency so there’s no secrets. What you are telling your employees when you don’t communicate with them is that they don’t matter; their feelings, their opinions, or their presence. Bad decisions might be made and employees may be disappointed, but there’s no excuse for not being upfront and direct.
To improve communication and employee morale, allow workers to voice their opinions and be part of the conversations, no matter what the potential outcomes may be.
3.Don’t Just Hear, but Listen
You engage in conversations with your employees throughout the day, but how often are you actually listening? Are the words just going in one ear and out the other? If you’re thinking about your upcoming conference call or your after-work activities during the conversation, you’re not listening.
Effective communication requires speaking and listening. To really understand the purpose of a conversation you need to be fully invested in it and give the speaker your full attention, otherwise there will be a disconnect and the message will get lost.
Next time you’re speaking to an employee: summarize the main points of the conversation and ask the speaker to clarify their main points or elaborate on a specific topic. This shows your employee that you care about what they said and will lead to improved satisfaction and a healthy workplace culture.