Communication in the Workplace

Simple tips to encourage an open dialogue with employees

10 Tips for Improving Communication in the Workplace
1 - Start with Open Communication

Open communication start with a new employee’s first day.  Make new employees feel welcomed and comfortable from the get-go by kicking off their employment with a “break the ice/get to know you” game or a welcome kit.  You could also include a social team event and get the team’s input and suggestions.  For the office foodie, it can be as simple as taking the team to a hip new restaurant or if the person loves the great outdoors, treat the team for a walk to a local park and a great view. 

2 - Lead by Example

As a manager, encourage your team to speak up about their feelings, sharing ideas, and finding solutions to problems.  If you have some shy employees that doesn’t like to speak, start small by consistently saying good morning to your employees.  It’s a great way to start your day and employees appreciate the acknowledgement.  Then start asking open-ended questions to unblock the road to communication.  Remember to wait for the answer.

3 - Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Shared Box of Donuts

In our office, nothing brings us all together like a funky taste testing.  You would be surprise how quickly strong opinions can be formed and lunch hour discussions can linger over a bag of spicy dill pickle or mocha flavored potato chips.  It prompts and inspires employees to communicate with one another and build relationships with all their colleagues.  The one thing we all have in common is that we’re all willing to try something once.

4 - Keep the Lights On and the Door Open

If you claim to have an open-door policy, really try to keep it open as often as possible and be in the office as much as you can. This is a physical remember to your employees that you’re there for them to talk whenever they need you.

5 - Schedule One-on-One Meetings

Everyone is busy, but take the time to schedule a meeting once month to chat. You’d be surprised how much your employees have to say that they might not bring up if you didn’t schedule the time to talk.

Share and show your enthusiasm when communicating with your employees so that you can keep up to date on where your employees are at, how they feel, and what projects may need your endorsement to move them along to completion. 

6 - Hold Bi-weekly Team Meetings

I know.  The last thing you want to do is add another meeting to your already packed calendar, but in addition to monthly one-on-one meetings, it’s important to schedule the same sort of initiative for the whole team in an open forum where employees can ask questions and share concerns, and managers can fill employees in on new projects coming up and company goals. They’ll feel a greater sense of belonging and will want to contribute to the success of the company, which will show in their work.

7 - Encourage Face-to-Face Communication

We’re all guilty of it, sometimes it’s easier to text or email the person next to you instead of just turning around to speak to that person or you send fifty email back and forth instead of picking up a phone. 

8 - Body Language Talks

Your body language can say so much.  Remember what your mom told you, stand up straight to convey a positive physical presence and ensure that your body language is open and approachable.  Make sure not to cross your arms, maintain steady eye contact without staring, and ensure that you don't play with your phone/tablet by putting it down on the table. 

9 - Actively Listen with Open Ears and Confirm What You're Hearing

When employees really feel like someone is listening, they’re more likely to share. Let your employees speak and wait for a natural break to give your feedback or confirm that you’ve understood what has been said.  Also try to mirror the emotions that the person is conveying in other words, be enthusiastic when the person you’re listening to is enthusiastic, or concerned when the other person is concerned.

10 - Allow for Anonymous Feedback

In this day and age when you’re cookied (Is that word in Webster’s Dictionary yet?) for every site you visit, the concept of anonymity in communication seems unrealistic; however, you should take it into consideration for your work environments. Think of the old-fashioned suggestion box.  Often, employees won’t be completely honest with their managers because they are hesitant about making a complaint and facing negative consequences.  By allowing people to be incognito informants, they may alert you to an issue before it become a public nightmare.

Communication is always evolving as new technologies are introduced and sometimes can be an elusive concept, but remember to just give it a try and never stop trying.