In every workplace, you’ll find people with differing personalities, skills and working styles – and there’s no doubt this presents some challenges! However, a diverse workplace where employees are comfortable sharing ideas and trying new strategies is essential to creating a forward-thinking and successful organisation.
The key to getting everyone on the same page is effective communication. When the lines of communication open up both ways, everyone feels heard. This means everyone also feels more engaged. That not only boosts productivity and innovation, but also makes for a happy workplace.
Read on to learn 10 powerful ways to improve team communication in the workplace.
As a manager, it’s important to lead from the front and create an environment where open communication is the norm. Be approachable, welcome questions, and don’t judge. Discounting problems that your employees bring to you without understanding why they feel a certain way is the surest way to stop them from approaching you with their thoughts or issues again.
Encourage your team to share their thoughts on the issues and strategies that impact them. This helps everyone to become a valuable contributor which is great for team spirit. Sometimes, informal occasions like office lunches and social events can be a great way to gauge employee sentiment. You can then reach out to individual employees to hear their thoughts in a slightly more formal setting.
Spending time with each member of your team individually is essential. Not everyone feels comfortable speaking up in front of a crowd, so keep your door open and hold one-on-one meetings on a regular basis. Be sure to ask thoughtful questions. For example, instead of asking “Why are you concerned?”, frame your question around “Let’s talk about 2-3 things that make you feel concerned about this situation.”
Empathetic questions encourage your employees to speak their mind and it shows you value their opinion. Over time this builds trust and gives everyone the confidence to share their views openly.
If you feel the communication in your office could be improved but aren’t sure where to start, sending out a survey to your employees can be a great way to identify issues. Keeping it short and preferably anonymous is the best way to get a good response rate and honest answers.
There are numerous free and premium survey tools that can help you get a clear picture of how engaged your employees are. If you’re on a tight budget, you can even start on something as basic as Google Forms. When the responses are in, take the necessary steps to rectify any problems. And don’t forget to share the findings and action taken with your team!
Meetings often get a bad rap but they’re essential for improving team communication in your workplace. Just make sure your meetings are positive, productive and useful, otherwise they’re indeed a waste of everyone’s time.
Use them to communicate current goals, upcoming deadlines, recent wins and relevant learnings. Provide plenty of opportunities for your team to contribute so you don’t spend the whole time talking. This keeps everyone engaged, while also allowing you to pick up on any communication gaps and rectify them. For an informal feel, you could even have a team lunch meeting every week or fortnight!
Providing your team with a convenient way to share feedback, is a simple but effective strategy to improve communication in the workplace. Gathering employee feedback can also create loads of insights that can truly improve your workplace.
How can you collect employee feedback? Send a weekly email with a few subtle prompts encouraging a reply, use the survey tools we’ve mentioned above, or try the old-school method of a feedback box for those who wish to remain anonymous. Whatever you do, make sure you take appropriate measures to act on the feedback, and share the outcomes with your team.
Face-to-face communication is especially important if creativity and collaboration are paramount to the success of your business. These days, there is a huge array of online tools available that make it possible to connect, share and collaborate with our colleagues in many wonderful ways.
However, while tools such as email, Skype and cloud-based project management software can be great time-savers, they should not be your sole method of communication with co-workers. Maintaining a healthy balance between online and face-to-face interactions is a must to ensure effective communication within a team. Something as simple as a 30-minute check-in can help your team develop open communication.
Your non-verbal cues have a big impact on how approachable you are, so spend time working on a few positive body language techniques. As a leader, small things like making eye contact, using open gestures and smiling can go a long way to ensure you’re communicating with team members effectively.
Your body language in difficult meetings, especially, can have a far-reaching impact on open communication. Closed body language such as arms folded across the chest, avoiding eye contact, or a furrowed brow tell the other person that you’re not receptive to their thoughts. If you want to improve team communication at the workplace, avoid negative body language at all costs!
Effective communication within a team is about more than what you say – in fact, one of the most important elements is the ability to listen. Unfortunately, many of us are listening to answer rather than listening to understand. Mastering the art of empathetic listening is a great way to promote open channels of communication. It can be a massive contributor to a happy and thriving workplace. It also allows you to see things from your employee’s perspective and respond in a more meaningful and authentic way.
Team building exercises are an excellent way to build camaraderie and trust. They’re also a fun way to improve communication in the workplace. Getting everyone together in a more relaxed setting can help to break down barriers and encourage the sharing of ideas. Choose an activity that’s enjoyable, include a team lunch, allow time to mingle and your team will be stronger for it.
Organising communications training for yourself and your team is a smart investment. It will enhance communication within your team internally, while also improving interactions with clients, business partners and stakeholders.
You’ll also learn valuable strategies to improve communication in the workplace and show your team it’s a high priority. Make training more enjoyable by adding food – whether you opt for morning tea, finger food or go for an all-day corporate training catering menu, your team will be far more switched on and receptive when their bellies are full!
Effective communication within a team is essential to the success of any organisation. It affects everything from job satisfaction and trust, to productivity and teamwork. So, make the effort to find innovative and fun ways to improve communication in the workplace – and your efforts will be rewarded with a happy, loyal and successful team.
And remember, team meetings and get togethers are always better when there’s food involved! So why not make your next meeting memorable with some amazing sandwiches or add platters to your Friday afternoon drinks. Contact our friendly foodie team for more info.
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