“It’s not what you say, but how you say it,” goes the adage. Effective communication is the key to an efficient and professional work environment. In order to achieve this organizations need to encourage and ensure communication lines are kept open between teams and those in leadership roles. The healthy collaborative environment this creates in-turn increases productivity – allowing organizations to deliver better results and delight customers.
There is a tremendous change in how people and teams work together these days. Teams today are more agile while organizational structures are more flat to keep communication and information flowing. As more and more teams move entirely virtual, informal ways of exchanging information like management by walking around give way to structured, facilitated information dissemination. Communication tools should create more open, digital environment that makes work visible, integrated and accessible—across the team.
In times of crisis, communication comes to the fore.
Here are 5 Ways to Communicate Effectively at the Workplace
1. Develop a Communication Strategy
The first step for effective communication, develop a strategy for how the organization needs to communicate with employees. To achieve this teams should collaborate and define the process and purpose for better business communication management. This will require considering:
- Who needs to know
- What information do they need
- The Why behind the information
- When do they need to know it
- How will it be delivered to them
You can segment your employees into various groups for the “Who” part of the question and then map what each segment needs to know to that. “When” can be answered using the employee lifecycle as well as a model of the “business as usual” day. At this point you can also define what is a crisis and when you would communicate around that.
This strategy will help to create a standard for organizational communication.
2. Create a Communication Process
Teams today need a modern conversation experience. As with most things in business having a defined process that is owned by someone is the best way to ensure consistent communication. There can be a platform where employees can communicate with peers, as well as with senior management.
What works best is if you take the strategy from the step above and translate that into a communication plan. A communication plan for employees is similar to a plan for external communication and that can be used as a template.
3. Explain the Why
Often leaders come up with a great idea, plan it, implement it and may even communicate it but may not think it’s necessary to explain the rationale behind a particular initiative or purpose it is supposed to achieve. In order achieve the end goal, leaders need to make sure their employees understand why something is done and how it supports business goals and organizational strategy.
For example if you are launching a new product, explain why it makes sense for the organization. Similarly, if you are opening (or closing) a factory, explain the business rationale. You can dial the detailing up or down depending on the maturity and engagement level of your audience but explaining the why helps them to engage better with the organizational journey.
4. Focus on listening
Listening is very important, especially when you are engaged in one to one communication. Both the employers as well as employees must be active listeners. Do you have a way to hear your employees? Remember that in addition to listening, employees must receive an acknowledgement that they have been heard, and also an update when their feedback has resulted in a change or action.
5. Create A Feedback Process
One way communication is a recipe for disaster, always leave the door open for feedback. Create a forum where employees can freely offer feedback and ask questions. This ensures the message that was communicated was received as intended. Employees spend significant portion of their lives working and helping them stay connected to the mission and vision of the organization is one of the ways to foster employee engagement. The more we do to keep employees in the loop the better we can manage the communication effectively. Townhalls are a great method and a virtual townhall can be more engaging than the physical ones as questions can be asked without too much visibility or even with full anonymity. You can control the conversation by requesting feedback only on specific areas.
Also Read: 5 Crisis Communication Tips
Editor’s Tip: Create a Bereavement Communication Plan. Just in case.