The Importance of Strong Communication in the Workplace and How to Improve Your Own

Effective communication practices can help a business reach its goal of increased productivity.

It is important to recognize the status of how open and fluid communication from employee to employee and employee to customer are within your workplace. A lack of communication creates misunderstandings, conflict and gaps in task and projects. In fact, research by US firm Gartner shows a whopping 70% of business mistakes are due to poor communication. Strong communication improves team building, boosts company growth, and increases innovation. As Cisco managing director Alex Goryachev writes on Forbes: ‘People listen mostly to respond rather than to understand. However, digitization demands active listening to the ecosystem in order to survive and develop collaborative strategies with startups, partners and customers around the world’. Companies with good communication practices encourage employees to speak up and employees tend to feel more comfortable in these settings. You never know the hidden talents of your employees or fellow co-workers until you communicate with them. The best companies don’t wait until disaster strikes to start communicating. If the company’s been honest and communicating effectively all along, they have a valuable reservoir of trust built up. At Sabre88 we have lunch meetings with the whole back office staff bi-weekly where we get to chat and get to know our co-workers a little more. Effective, honest communication can bind employees together. If the staff is talking with each other on the job, it is a strong indication you are building a good team. Employees who look forward to talking with their colleagues are more enthused about coming to work, and more willing to participate in group projects. According to a Watson Wyatt study, companies that communicate the most effectively are 50% more likely to report low turnover levels compared with the industry average. With the right communication applications, a leader can influence initiative buy-in from their team. Additionally, building strong communication with coworkers gives a leader more information about their employees, and often information they would have otherwise overlooked. This information can help a leader make more strategic decisions on delegation, employee development, team development, and strategic initiatives to drive business success.

If you think your company’s communication status is lacking or not where you want it to be, don’t be discouraged. There are many methods in which a team can strengthen their co-operative communication. Here are some of the best methods for strengthening team communication that may prove useful to you.

  • Feel out the other person’s preferred communication style:

Maybe some of your team members are rarely on their email, whereas others respond to emails instantly. Some prefer in-person communication while others feel more comfortable calling into the video conference, are comfortable How do your employees and teammates communicate on projects best? Do they prefer email, in-person chats, or phone calls? You can learn this by asking them directly and also through observation.

  • Keep workflows transparent:

If your team is working on a big project together. Is everything clear? Does the entire team know the project’s deadline, individual responsibilities, and when they’re expected to hand those parts off to other teammates?

  • Set up Weekly or Monthly 1:1s:

By setting up a recurring meeting to touch base with coworkers, you’ll learn more about the inner workings of what’s going on the office and have a better idea on how to avoid misconceptions

  • Stay Consistent with Expectations and Follow up:

It’s easy to forget about regular check-ins when work gets busy, but it’s one of the best ways to maintain effective workplace communication. Consistency creates clarity.

  • Offer Constructive Feedback in a Thoughtful Way.

Focus on the subject of improvement, not the individual’s character. Always, always give the other person an opportunity to share their thoughts and contribute to building a positive process moving forward

  • Offer Compliments in a Thoughtful way:

If you tell an employee they did a great job, the compliment isn’t as helpful as you think. They may be left thinking, “But what was great about it? How can I replicate it if I don’t know?” Be specific instead — “You did a great job researching the contracting agency and taking valuable notes that will be used later.

  • Follow Up in Writing:

No matter how compelling your meeting was, it’s probable that those in attendance will not remember everything that was shared. Prior to the meeting, designate a person to take notes. Assimilate this information into a bullet-pointed email to send to your team as a follow-up and refresher. Short, concise notes will keep important information fresh in people’s minds.

  • Define Goals and Expectations:

Deliver clear, achievable goals to both teams and individuals, outlining exactly what is required on any given project, and ensuring that all staff is aware of the objectives of the project, the department and the organization as a whole.

  • Explain why you’re Asking your Employee or Coworker to do Something:

By doing so, you’re offering vital information and the opportunity to ask questions they may have hesitated to communicate otherwise. Perhaps more importantly, you’re also showing the employee how their work ties directly to business goals.

  • Take Time to Listen:

Don’t dominate the conversation. After a while, Attention spans will wear thin. Be impactful with your words. Pause after important points to take questions or check for understanding. This will help your coworkers feel that they play an active role in the conversation.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Author: Bobby Cottingham

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