4 Steps to Effective Communication at the Workplace
Effective communication is essential for the success of any organisation.
Good communication enables integration of multiple efforts into one overall strategy. It also makes all workflows smoother and increases their efficiency. In addition, effective communication can boost the productivity of the workforce by increasing their morale and commitment.
However, the majority of leaders often fail to communicate effectively, due to their busy schedules and many deadlines. As a result, large communication gaps can occur.
Effective communication is rare
In most organisations, communication does happen at some levels but then isn’t passed on to other levels. For example, a lot of highly relevant information is generated in focused meetings, but then the leadership fails to ensure that this information is disseminated to others who should know about it.
In addition to communication gaps resulting from negligence, some organisational leaders don’t seem to trust their employees enough to keep them informed about top-level decisions and developments.
Indeed, there may be some sensitive information that should not be shared with everyone. But in general, good leaders should enable their workforce to take full responsibility for the success of their company. And that’s only possible if they are kept informed of the most important developments.
Poor communication results in lower productivity
When information is not properly disseminated, it becomes harder to implement changes. Glitches occur, and progress is undermined. When team members discover they are not being fully informed, they start to feel insignificant and develop feelings of resentment.
However, when your employees are kept up to date with new developments as they happen, they are inspired to devote a lot more time and energy on creative efforts to make your organisation more successful. This is because effective communication enables employees to take pride in their company.
Some organisations release press statements that announce new initiatives, without informing their own workforce first. As a result, outsiders may be more aware of changes in the organisation than their employees, which is a disastrous state of affairs.
The results of a recent survey showed that less than 10% of the employees surveyed feel they are fully informed about what is going on in their company. And more than 50% of the employees said they feel they are being informed only some of the time.
Clearly, communication with their own workforce is not a high priority for many organisations.
Because of this, leaders should make an effort to be more proactive about communication and put systems in place to improve the overall communication process of their organisation.
The following are four steps that will help you to create effective communication in your organisation:
1. Create an overall communication plan
Every organisation must develop an effective communication strategy and that strategy should be formulated with the employees in mind.
The first part of this process is to clearly define what you want to achieve with the communication strategy. Then discuss how you plan for this strategy to be implemented and how your workforce will be trained to implement it.
Ideally, you should get a team of your workforce to help formulating the strategy, since it is being created for them.
Once it’s completed, the communication strategy should become the standard for the entire organisation. Learning to follow it should then be taught during the on-boarding process of any new employees.
2. Define the details
Once you have formulated an overall communication strategy, then move on to fill in the details of the communication process. For example, decide who needs access to which information, at what time, and via which channels.
To ensure that there are no gaps in communication, a clear communication process should be established. For example, there should be someone in charge of disseminating specific types of information. That person should be responsible for gathering information and sharing it with all employees.
Putting processes as simple as this in place can be hugely beneficial for your organisation.
3. Establish communication channels
Information must be distributed using every information channel available. Many organisations make the mistake of disseminating information through only one channel alone.
If an employee can’t access information on one channel, they will definitely get it through another channel. The more a message is broadcasted, the more people will receive it and the stronger the impact of the message.
You can make use of social media, emails, text messages, chat apps, departmental memos, meetings, newsletters, bulletin boards and many others. Just decide which channels will be used for which messages and then make sure everyone is on board with this.
4. Allow employee feedback
Information should always flow in both directions, not just one way.
So make sure you give your employees opportunities to provide feedback, ask questions, and air their opinions on developments in your organisation. The opportunity for feedback leads to increased understanding, and the willingness to embrace change among your workforce.
For example, you could set up a dedicated online forum for employee feedback, or allow room for feedback during regular meetings. Or you could set up a dedicated hotline or web chat for employee feedback. The possibilities are endless.
No matter which communication process you choose, just make sure you give room for your employees to air their feelings, and let them know that their opinions count. This not only makes them feel valued and improves their productivity, you might even get some excellent ideas for changing the way you do things.