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Effective workplace communication is an essential element of your business’s success. It doesn’t matter if that communication is between two people or twenty. Without good communication between team members, your business will suffer.
But even basic communication can be a difficult skill to put into practice and master.
In this article, we’ll help you understand why effective workplace communication is so important and discuss ways to help you improve the lines of communication in your business.
The formal definition of communication is:
The act of exchanging information, ideas, and feelings through written or verbal means.
Workplace communication, then, is exchanging information according to the above definition in a business — rather than a personal — setting.
But that definition doesn’t incorporate the concept of effective communication. You can exchange information with a lot of words or with very few. But does the person to whom you’re trying to communicate understand the meaning of your message?
With effective workplace communication, your team will receive your message accurately, understand how it affects them, and know what to do next — no matter how many words you use.
Here’s how effective communication can improve vital aspects of your business.
Productivity in the workplace suffers when your team members are confused about any number of variables.
But when you have good communication within your business, you can avoid that confusion and improve productivity in the process.
With a clear and concise message, you’ll be able to exchange information in such a way that everyone knows what they’re supposed to do after the first explanation.
That saves time and prevents your team members from becoming irritated and confused about poorly communicated instructions.
Innovation relies on creativity. But that creativity won’t happen unless your employees feel free to express their ideas to others.
When your team members are reluctant to open up and be creative because of poor workplace communication practices, innovation will suffer.
If, on the other hand, you promote effective communication and keep the lines of discourse open between all individuals on the team, everyone will be more apt to pass their creative thoughts on to others.
A culture of creativity reinforces itself and jump-starts innovation in all areas of your business.
A strong team will produce strong results, be it in small ways or large. But how can you build the bonds between team members to achieve these results? With effective workplace communication.
When coworkers talk with each other (and you), bounce ideas off each other, consider novel opinions, and discuss their progress, they are more likely to pull together as one unit rather than a group of separate individuals.
Good communication makes a true “there’s-no-I-in-team” attitude possible.
The success of any team revolves around everyone pulling together for a common purpose.
If there’s confusion about that purpose — or confusion about anything else, for that matter — members of the team may start pulling in conflicting directions.
It’s inevitable that some confusion will occur in the workflow, especially at the beginning of a project. Improving workplace communication, though, means you’ll be able to keep that confusion to a minimum.
And when there’s less confusion overall, your team will be better equipped to do their best work.
Helping your employees feel less like a group of individuals and more like a team involves ensuring that everyone’s voice is being heard.
Effective workplace communication makes that possible.
A strong communication system provides each member of your team with an outlet where they can have a say in how things get done.
Poor workplace communication stymies business growth. Clear workplace communication, on the other hand, helps your business grow.
How? By eliminating uncertainty, doubt, and confusion in every corner of your business.
When your employees are certain about what you want them to do, they will be better prepared to perform their work at a rapid pace rather than letting minor difficulties get the best of them.
With the clarity of purpose that comes with good workplace communication, your business will thrive like never before.
Rather than simply doling out assignments and expecting your team to get right on it, take the time to explain why the activities you’ve given them are important.
Don’t assume that everyone knows why the task supports the rest of the project or where it fits into the overall plan.
When you say, “Do this because…” rather than just, “Do this,” you provide vital information about the reasons for a particular job and show the team why their work is valuable.
Successful projects depend on transparent workflow. Your team needs to know when the deadlines are, who is responsible for each link in the chain, and the small details that can mean the difference between success and failure.
Effective workplace communication helps ensure that each member of your team knows what’s going on at every step of the process and that they’re all on the same page.
This may take a significant amount of work before the project starts, but the results — a smooth-running and successful project — are well worth the effort.
Similar to keeping the workflow transparent is ensuring that everyone understands their role within the project.
With good workplace communication, you can establish people in positions of responsibility right from the start. This helps to clarify who has final approval and make everyone aware of the proper channels the project needs to go through to reach completion.
Clarity, accuracy, accessibility — they’re all vital if you want to improve or maintain your workplace communication.
But clarity, accuracy, and accessibility aren’t always easy to express in the day-to-day communication that flows throughout your team.
When you do communicate with your employees — be it face-to-face or online — speak or write as plainly as possible and in a way that is easily accessible (i.e., understandable) to your intended audience.
Avoid ambiguous language whenever possible, and refrain from using jargon unless your employees use it often and it streamlines the communication process.
If you must give commands, be straightforward but tailor your delivery to be as polite as possible.
It will take practice to achieve clarity, accuracy, and accessibility in your workplace communication, but the benefits are well worth the effort.
Encourage strong communication by making progress reports a part of your team’s workflow.
Whether they’re face-to-face or written, progress reports help keep you informed about the goings-on within your business, but they also serve as a way to keep everyone on the team abreast of developments that might affect their work.
This is especially necessary when you’re managing a remote team. Remote workers don’t interact as often as in-office employees so it’s very easy for information to fall through the cracks.
Periodic progress reports plug those gaps in workplace communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Workplace communication takes many forms. In your business, it may range from instant messages and emails to paper memos and hand-delivery.
That said, there is a best-possible medium (i.e., format) for different types of communication.
For example, you can quickly and easily communicate a reminder about an upcoming due date via instant message, email, or printed memo.
Major policy change, however, is better served via a face-to-face meeting where you can go into detail and answer any questions that may come up.
When considering the right medium to use, take a few moments to ask yourself:
Answering these questions can help you format your communication in the right medium for the job and ensure that your employees receive and understand the message the way you intend.
When you establish rapport with your team members early on, they’ll be more likely to trust you and feel comfortable talking to you when a problem arises.
Not sure how to do this?
One manager makes it a point to take the team out to lunch periodically. While there, they try to avoid talking about business and, instead, try to learn more about their coworkers.
This is especially useful when a new team member arrives. Gathering for a meal helps the new employee integrate into the group faster so they don’t feel like an outsider during their early days.
As we mentioned above, establishing rapport helps build trust and grease the wheels of workplace communication. But establishing rapport isn’t the only way to build trust amongst your team.
Here are other ways to foster confidence between you, your team, and the individual employees that make it up:
When your team feels they can trust you and their coworkers, workplace communication will flow more easily between all parties.
Despite the fact that much of today’s business communication is going digital, it’s still essential to meet one-on-one with your employees now and then.
Whether you set up a weekly, an every-other-week, or a monthly meeting with each member of your team, talking face-to-face — even virtually — keeps the lines of communication open and humming so employees feel comfortable sharing their successes and failures with you.
A big part of effective workplace communication is realizing that it’s a two-way street.
Too often, managers think of communication as getting their own message across and will ignore the messages coming from their team.
While your ability to communicate with your team is important, your ability to listen to the communication from your employees is equally important.
It’s very much like a telephone conversation between you and an old friend. If problems on the line prevent your friend’s words from being heard, the communication breaks down quickly.
The same is true of communication at work. If the message only goes one way, it’s very difficult for everyone to end up on the same page and working toward the same goal.
Take the time to really listen to what your team members have to say.
Ask questions, give the other person your full attention (avoid multitasking), and refrain from formulating a response before the other person has finished talking.
Active listening like this is challenging — and you won’t always get it right — but, when it does happen, it is well worth the effort.
Drawing quick assumptions before you have all the facts is often the death of effective communication.
For example, if a team member is falling short with a task in which you expected them to excel, don’t make a rash assumption and jump to a wrong conclusion (e.g., they don’t care about the task and they’re slacking off).
Instead, take the time to talk with the employee and find out where they’re having issues and how you can help resolve them.
Perhaps they’re dealing with things outside of work or they’re not used to handling a larger workload.
When you avoid quick assumptions and take the time to dig into the cause and effect of the issue, you contribute to streamlined and effective workplace communication throughout your business.
In business, as in life, the right tool can mean the difference between success and failure, between strong team relationships and weak ones.
When it comes to workplace communication, the right tool should make everything easier. It should streamline team communication but also contribute in a large way to other vital aspects of your business, like scheduling, payroll, time tracking, and controlling labor costs.
The one tool that does all that and more is the Sling app. The powerful features built into the Sling suite of software can help you:
Sling’s communication features include cloud-based storage, Newsfeed, and Messages.
To make communication as efficient as possible, Sling stores all its data in the cloud. When you need to share a schedule, report, or template with a team member, simply give them permission and send them a link. They can then access that information anywhere, anytime.
Sling’s Newsfeed feature is based on familiar social media formats that let you post updates about your business in one place for all your team to see. You can set up different newsfeeds to provide information to one person, a specific group of people, or all your employees.
That’s powerful workplace communication for the 21st century.
And with Sling’s Messages feature, you can take advantage of push notifications to communicate more efficiently with multiple people from a single app. No more trying to force multiple communication platforms to work together.
Sling lets you send messages to individuals or groups, optimize your workforce, and build a stronger business culture — all in real-time so you can get more done during your busy workday.
All of that within the same app that helps you build schedules, manage overtime, and keep your business on budget. That’s a powerful tool for effective workplace communication and workforce management.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.