The other day I was chatting with two of our DIY-with-help customers. We’re excited to report that they’ve already taken action and gotten some great results even though they’re only 4 months in and haven’t even rolled out the training yet! The first step in our process is what we call DISCOVERY, and by going through the process as we outline it in the modules, they learned about a few of the concerns their employees had. One of them was interdepartmental communication.
No surprise there. Many workplaces struggle with ensuring that everyone gets the information they need in a timely manner! According to Dynamic Signal’s 2018 State of Employee Communication Report, 42% of the employees surveyed reported missing critical information to do their job and 74% said they needlessly wasted time searching for information.
We’re proud to say our customer immediately took action to resolve the challenge. It got me thinking about sharing some ideas with you about how to improve communication in the workplace.
Here are 7 Strategies for Workplace Communication
- Have a Communication Strategy and Share It with Your Team. Most leadership teams are aware that workplace communication is a challenge. However, few take the time to sit down and create a strategy and set up the systems to support it. Where are the gaps in communication? What are several ways you can close those gaps? Get it all on paper, set up the systems and then train your entire team on those channels. It doesn’t help to have communication channels if no one knows what they are. Be sure to include this information as part of your new hire orientation program. (You do have one, right?)
- Align Your Actions with your Mission and Values. When you make decisions or take actions that are in direct opposition to your stated mission and values, you send mixed messages. Decide who you are as a company and then be sure the entire leadership team is living that way and setting the example for your team.
- Don’t Get Stalled at Middle Management. Managers are involved in meetings and have more conversations with senior leadership. So they maybe more in the know. The problem comes when the communication stops there and your staff doesn’t get extended the same courtesy. Put some accountability into place so your management team is spreading the important news!
- Hold Short and Productive Stand-Up or Shift Meetings. Face-to-Face is still the best way to make sure your message gets heard. While BAD meetings can be frustrating, short, informative stand-ups can help you get everyone on your team or starting their shift on the same page at one time. While you may feel “you don’t have time,” this one practice for 20 minutes a day (or per shift) can cut down on unnecessary emails, confusion, and mistakes.
- Schedule shifts with a 30-minute overlap. Make sure team members know to use that time to share information with each other. What happened on the previous shift? What’s expected to happen on this one? What customer issues are still pending? This ultimately SAVES money because you’re improving productivity by making sure everyone is in the know.
- Use Several Approaches. While I’m a fan of face-to-face communication, the best method is to use several methods! For one, you can’t catch everyone with face-to-face. Also, though, some people prefer written communication. Just make sure it’s easily accessible and not overwhelming. Nobody wants a million emails a day every time their boss has a thought. 🙂 (I’ve been guilty of this myself). Update your communication channels by using technology. There are apps for this purpose (we use SLACK and love it!) and other ways you can send blasts texts to employees. Remember, just because you’ve done it this one way for years, doesn’t mean it’s the best way today!
- Remember that it’s a 2-way street. When communication is top-down only, you’re telling your team members that their input doesn’t matter. As you come up with your strategy, make sure you add a listening strategy in there as well. How will you proactively listen to your employees, beyond the bi-annual survey?
What about you? What communication strategies have worked for your company? Comment below and let me know! Then go back to work and start spreading the news. 🙂
Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc., a training firm that works with organizations to help them create cultures of happy employees delivering exceptional customer experiences. She’s the author of 2 books including 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red-Carpet for Your Customers. Follow us on Instagram at @theredcarpetway