6 Ways to Promote Effective Communication in the Workplace
Whatever your walk of life, being a great communicator is a critical skill. But why is communication in the workplace important?
In a recent survey, employers listed their top five most in-demand skills for new hires. Four out of five skills were speaking, listening, writing, and presentation. This shows a clear focus on our ability to engage others and discuss ideas.
The way we interact has evolved too. Video conferencing has increased. So has the reliance on workplace messaging apps. As a result, connecting with colleagues in different locations is our everyday experience.
As technology plays an ever-growing role in our workplace communication, how do we take the benefits and avoid the potential pitfalls?
First, let’s talk about why it matters so much:
Why is it important to communicate effectively at work?
Improving communication in the workplace can bring a host of benefits:
- Promote understanding: Most of us focus on talking rather than listening. Even some brands do this, with 8 out of 10 customers saying they don’t feel understood. When we listen more, we create productive bonds with others.
- Improve relationships: When you respond to colleagues in the right way, it’s easier to gain their trust. For example, being polite in an email will increase the chances of a reply.
- Reduce conflict: If your team is unable to talk about decisions, disagreements will go unaddressed and can cause conflict later down the line.
What are some of the barriers to effective workplace communication?
When leaders aren’t aware of the barriers to good workplace communication, problems can arise. Cultural norms, lack of innovation, and workplace silos can all get in the way.
They’ll cause endless hiring cycles and affect employee’s engagement. So, to become more aware, leaders should ask themselves some questions:
- Is everyone confident using our platforms?
- Do our meetings promote collaboration?
- What jargon do we use that excludes staff?
- Should we change our processes to be more inclusive?
- How do we encourage staff to seek help for their wellbeing?
There are also steps you can take to make communication in the workplace better. That’s why we’ve outlined 6 ways to do this. These steps will help you and those around you become better at getting your point across in the right way.
6 ways companies can encourage better communication in the workplace
1. Assign an anchor point
Employees need support in hard times. When they get it, they’ll be more productive.
So, solve this by assigning responsibility for it. Inspire managers to take charge of handling the crisis. If not, create a central point of support.
Your anchor point is the person employees can ask for information and advice about ongoing problems. They need to have the latest updates to be able to answer any questions or concerns.
These could include:
What’s the policy on home working? How much can I share with clients? Where can I get help to manage personal problems?
Make sure at least one person knows what action to take.
2. Set clear expectations
Unwritten rules will hurt your teams. So, when more than a quarter of employees feel forced to communicate outside of work hours, it’s better to be aware of them.
Over time, unchallenged rules can lead to resentment. Sometimes even stress and burnout.
So, if it’s happening, weed it out. Don’t let company culture dictate it.
Instead, take steps to set clear boundaries. For example, senior leaders can clarify their expectations in their email signatures:
“My working hours are from 8 am-5 pm. I balance childcare with work, so I also work in the evenings. I do not expect to receive any replies outside my working hours”.
For users of team collaboration software, you can also set your working hours in these apps.
Setting working hours in Slack
Slack allows you to display statuses that let your teammates know what you are doing and for how long. You can use this to communicate your work hours and prevent notifications outside of those times.
Click your profile in the top right, then Update your status. After selecting or creating a status, you can choose how long the status takes to clear or specify a date and time.
You can also prevent notifications outside of working hours in the Preferences menu:
How to set working hours in Microsoft Teams
In Microsoft Teams, you can create a schedule for your team by going to Shifts in the apps section of the sidebar:
After choosing the team you want to make a schedule for and selecting the right time zone, the Shifts overview will appear.
Use the add people button to add team members to a shift, then click any open slot in a member’s schedule to create their shift details.
From here you can add their working hours, break times, and tasks for each day:
Individual team members can set their status by clicking the profile picture in the top right and clicking set status message:
From here you can write a status message and decide how long the status will last:
By taking steps to clarify your expectations, you can help your team respect them.
3. Promote cross-team working
Silos exist in most companies. But there are steps you can take to break them down.
Why not invite other departments to your team meeting? Services have evolved to include group video conferencing, which makes things easier.
Features like Together mode offer a great solution. By creating the sense of a shared space for meetings, this can make video conferences feel less distant. When talking to other teams your employees interact with less, every little helps to break down barriers.
By encouraging a more comfortable environment, participants should feel more relaxed. Using AI technology, Together mode enhances connection by creating avatars of users. So, why not try it?
4. Use the right tools
When we’re sitting at home, how easy is it to support others?
Well, once you have the right tool to help, the answer is ‘very easy’. The right one should strengthen communication in the workplace by enabling easier connections.
Email is great for formal communication and sending out lengthy messages to clients and customers.
It is a cumbersome method for day-to-day discussion within your team, however, especially for group conversation. You might also need to think about email deliverability just to ensure your messages are received at all.
As a result, it is important to know when to use Slack vs email.
When you need to get in touch urgently or make sure your employees have the right information before they come online, texting can be the ideal communication method. If you want to make sure your team remembers vital information, visual communication methods like texting are 25% more effective than oral communication.
They will all have their own preferences for messaging apps. However, managing half a dozen apps or more is a waste of your time and creates plenty of room for human error.
Mio enables cross-platform communication between Microsoft Teams, Slack, Webex, and Zoom Chat.
This means that you and your colleagues can talk and make use of messaging app features without leaving your platform of choice.
Plus, having one place to engage with team members will help you break the habit of endless emails.
5. Make it personal
Messaging apps allow for more direct and informal communication than email.
As a result, for daily conversations that need to happen in real time, instant messaging is the best way to get in touch.
Employees can see your message immediately but finish their task before responding, and sending a quick reply is much less distracting than a phone call.
Keeping your conversations on topic or task-related ensures conversations stay focused and aids collaboration on group tasks.
As a manager, you should also account for the differences between employees’ lifestyles. Doing so will help you to adapt your style, and foster inclusion.
So, avoid enforcing strict rules. And, where possible, communicate with staff using the methods they’re comfortable with.
6. Encourage feedback and trust
Talking about our worries can make them easier to deal with. But there may be things we’d rather not share in the workplace.
If there is a culture of mistrust, break it down by inviting your team to a group chat. This forum offers a way to be more open. And, by sharing honest feedback with others on your own performance, your team will trust you more.
Use group chats to offer real-time conversations. This way, you can show your teams you’re human too. You’ll also be showing them that they don’t need to engage in perfectionism to thrive.
It is also important to have a way to collect in-depth anonymous feedback to ensure you know how your team really feels about decisions and changes.
Create a chatbot survey or questionnaire that can dig deeper into your team’s opinions.
The right chatbot can analyze employee responses to ask relevant follow-up questions in a conversational manner. This makes it easier for employees to discuss their concerns without worrying about confidentiality.
How can effective workplace communication benefit your business?
Some of the key benefits of improving how you speak to your teams include:
- More productive: We are more invested in our team’s success when we feel more connected to decisions. In fact, more inclusive conversations can increase employee motivation by 4 times.
- Reduced turnover: Workers stay longer in organizations when they feel connected to the culture. Making improvements in how managers communicate with their direct hires can also reduce the chance they’ll leave.
- Increased collaboration: When teams collaborate, they improve their output. This is why almost half of millennials say they would pay for collaboration tools themselves.
- Better innovation: When teams communicate well, they make others feel more comfortable. This can encourage new ways of thinking and give you a competitive advantage.
Use the right tools and strategies to enable better workplace communication
In challenging times, we all need to find ways to connect.
Your teams need to feel safe and protected. They also need help to perform. By enabling your cross-platform messaging, you ensure everyone can work with the tools they prefer.
An easy win for effective communication, I think you’ll agree?
Take a look at how you can improve communication in the workplace using Mio.