Workplace communication, or lack thereof, is the cause of most, if not all, problems your team faces. If we know this, why is it so difficult to get it right? Well, for one thing, the term “workplace communication” encompasses a lot. It means so many different things and involves the interpretation of so many different people.
Let’s first look at three different types of workplace communication and then we’ll move on to two important actions leaders must take if they want to communicate effectively with their teams.
Three Types of Workplace Communication
Informational: The sharing of information between leadership and employees and between teams. It’s where transparency comes in and there are a variety of different methodologies and tools you can use to share information with each other.
Interpersonal: This is about how people speak to each other and treat each other. Interpersonal communication incorporates both the message and the feelings of the people involved, as well as language, body language, facial expressions, and vocal tone, etc.
Inspirational: This type of communication relates to how you energize and influence your team and inspire them to rally around your mission, core values and company culture.
All three types come into play every single day at work, whether you are in the same building or working remotely. However, regardless of the type of communication, there are two actions that leaders must take regularly in order to be effective.
One of the best ways to improve your communication is to pause and get clear on your intention behind the message. You may know what you want to say, but have you thought about how you want to say it? Have you thought about the outcome you’re hoping to achieve? Have you given some attention to the intended audience? What are the best methodologies to reach them? Can you be more deliberate about the language you use so you reach the outcome you desire, be it to ensure people are informed, or feel good about themselves, or get inspired and purposeful about their work.
Sometimes we are working at such a frantic pace that we forget to be deliberate about the messages we share and the way we share them. The problem with this default way of communicating is that it’s often the source of the many fires we are frantically trying to put out.
Pausing and getting clear about the intended message is a winning strategy for communicating more effectively with your team and others.
The other mistake that leaders often make is to forget that communication is a two-way street. Do you want your team members to feel more valued? Actively solicit their feedback and ideas on a regular basis.
Perhaps you feel you have this covered. You do an annual or bi-annual employee satisfaction survey after all! You’ve put suggestion boxes up, haven’t you? Frankly, it’s not enough. If you want to make your employees feel heard, you’ve got to constantly be asking for their opinions, their ideas and their insights. You can do this in listening sessions, monthly lunch-with-the-boss events, facilitated virtual listening sessions, one-on-one meetings, or by simply getting out of your office regularly to observe and connect with your team. A combination of several methods is best.
Of course, if you’re going to listen, you’ve also got to act and respond. Take action on the ideas your employees share with you and if you’re not going to do so, educate them on the why. Remember also to be inclusive. Notice if you’re only listening to one group of people over another, and be intentional about including everyone in the conversation.
There is so much to say on the topic of workplace communication, but if you start by clarifying your intention and improving your listening skills, you’ll find that your team is more aligned, better informed, and feels more valued.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below. What are some of the most important ways to improve communication at work?
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Worldwide, and the author of 3 books including the forthcoming “Employees First! Inspire, Engage, and Focus on the Heart of Your Organization.” Click here to learn more about our live-virtual monthly education programs to help you Re-Imagine your culture.