If you’ve been wondering why many businesses are choosing to have short daily meetings or weekly check-ins with their employees instead of meeting only when absolutely necessary, it’s due to the countless benefits that regular discussion can provide. When teams feel connected to one another, tasks become streamlined, misunderstandings decrease, and people feel encouraged to share new ideas.
“Better communication increases understanding, fosters trust, and stands out as the essential ingredient for getting things done,” writes content marketing manager Jamey Austin. “It’s not a silver bullet, it’s silver buckshot.”
Why Communication Skills Matter
According to one research study, most companies considered communication skills to be twice as important as managerial skills. Communication is the foundation for all business transactions, after all; without effective and engaging communication, all marketing efforts, client relationships, business partnerships, and workplace cohesiveness would fall flat. Emphasizing the importance of communication with your employees will:
- Reduce confusion.
- Give each individual a sense of purpose.
- Create a solid foundation for a positive work environment.
- Establish accountability for everyone on the team.
Even if your team appears to communicate well, it can be easy to overlook some essential facets of communication. For example, if an employee could be capable of writing powerful messages but clam up when they’re asked to participate more in team meetings. Employers and employees alike should strive to increase their interpersonal skills in each of the following areas:
- Oral communication. To keep people engaged in conversation, you can’t just focus on clearly explaining the concept. You also need to monitor your tone of voice and choice of words depending on whether the meeting is formal or informal.
- Written communication. A message can immediately lose credibility if it’s riddled with grammatical or spelling errors. All written forms of communication should be thoroughly proofread before being shared with your team or your clients.
- Public speaking. This is one of the most difficult things for people to overcome. A successful public speaker has to be capable of capturing the interest of an audience who may not necessarily want to hear the message, such as a group of employees who would prefer to be doing anything else besides sitting in a meeting.
- Listening. Remember, communication is always a two-way street. If the other person doesn’t get the chance to speak their mind or ask questions, you’re missing out on valuable information and feedback.
- Adaptability. If someone doesn’t understand what you’re trying to communicate, you must be able to adapt and meet them where they are by explaining your thoughts using a different example or strategy. Getting frustrated with someone for not immediately understanding will only exacerbate the problem.
Strategies for Improving Workplace Communication
There is no quick fix for any communication difficulties your business may be experiencing, and the prevalence of employees now working from home has likely increased these challenges. However, there are some steps you can start taking today to begin fostering better communication amongst your team whether they’re working in the office or in their homes:
- Choose the most effective tools. Do your research to see if digital communication tools like Zoom, Slack, and Jira could help streamline communications for your team. For instance, Slack allows you to create designated channels for specific topics or business aspects where teams can send instant messages, share documents, and quickly get in touch with other team members. Meanwhile, Zoom is excellent for company video conferences, and Jira can effortlessly keep track of each individual's assignments and goals.
- Emphasize maintaining open channels of communication. Encourage employees to come to you at any time with questions or thoughts through their preferred communication method. Some may feel comfortable sharing their ideas over email, whereas others may want to do a short video call to talk through something.
- Give specific feedback. It can be easy to focus on things that need improving without acknowledging what people have done well. Be sure to offer sincere compliments along with constructive criticism.
- Schedule regular check-ins. Scheduling short calls with specific agendas can save your team plenty of time in the long run, and checking in with individuals on a regular basis will ensure that employees working remotely won’t feel isolated or left out.
- Stop making assumptions. With digital or written communication, it can be challenging to interpret vague or unclear messages. Since you can’t rely on the person’s body language or tone of voice to give you clues about their emotions, you need to be slow to make any immediate assumptions. Ask open-ended questions without being condescending, and try to assume that the person had positive intentions in order to prevent yourself from becoming angry or defensive.
With consistent practice, you’ll be able to create a workplace culture where everyone feels empowered to offer their own unique insights while encouraging others around them to do the same. If you want to cultivate a positive work environment, retain employees, and consistently satisfy your customers, prioritizing workplace communication is truly priceless.