Effective communication = effective working relationships.
Communication impacts all areas of the business; every conversation with a customer, an employee, any meeting you had. How you approach each situation of communication will have an influence on your business. With employees, it is how goals, visions and ideas are communicated. With customers, it is almost more important as your communications impact the face of the business and how you are portrayed externally.
There is always room to improve your communication techniques. We have outlined a few for you to get started in changing up your style to lead a more effective workplace.
- Adjust Communications
Ask yourself; what is my current method of communication with my employees? Is it effective? Do they value it? Assess your current communication methods to identify whether these create effective communication within the workplace. This will then allow you to monitor and adjust to inhibit more effective outcomes.
- Body Language – what movements are you carrying out? Whether you are communicating with employees or customers, choose your body language appropriately. These include eye contact, gestures, posture, sign language. Displaying the wrong body language could cause a bit of confusion or conflict if used in the wrong situation. For example; smiling when a customer enters your restaurant, approaching them immediately, and listening to their requests attentively are positive body language signs.
- Verbal communication is generally used in the daily operations of the business to elicit new ideas or talk to customers. The tone of voice is important to adapt here in the different day to day environments. If nonverbal messages are overwhelming the conversation, it might be better to wait until things settle.
- Written communication incorporates functions such as text, e-mail or written notes/letters. These do not have to be constructed formally at all times, for example; if you run a grocery shop and are communicating an update to your staff via the WhatsApp group, this can be done quite informally but still with a level of professionalism that your staff will still respect and adhere to your message.
- Pick a good place and time
Variation and priority of messages require different approaches – don’t discuss promotions in the hallway. Communicating in the right place at the right time will develop a positive and impactful work environment where your colleagues will feel appreciated and valued. Below are a few examples that elicit effective business communication.
- 1-1: these are beneficial in boosting the morale of your employees. From discussing progress to performance, issues or opportunities, the one-to-one enables the employee to feel comfortable in expressing their true feelings surrounding the situation and raising any issues that need to be addressed.
- Team meetings: A great way to get all the team together and get them focused. Some employees will feel comfortable to express to managers any concerns they might have individually or as a team. It’s also a great time to prepare your staff, communicate key changes, and new targets. Varying the way you do team meetings will keep the energy alive and employees to remain attentive; go virtual, do fun and engaging activities. Keep your team interested.
- Training: Any employee training, especially during their onboarding period is a great time to express the company goals, objectives and visions. Conversing this at an early stage will allow the employee to adapt and align their visions with the company.
- Listen up, then speak:
Listening to your employees’ concerns first before imposing on their situation shows a level of respect and that you are willing to listen and come to an amicable solution if needs be. The biggest business communication killer is the failure to listen. Be flexible in wanting to hear another person’s feedback or ideas, take them in and then approach with a response as to whether you agree or ways to improve the suggestions. Never interrupt until you know the person has finished. Listening in conversations sends a good, positive message to the others present and highlights that you want to work together.
- Express emotion with respect:
Expressing feelings when communicating with employers is extremely effective and sometimes important in order to stress a point. For example; if your sales team are falling behind on targets, you need to express this to them in a way that will only motivate and encourage them to up their performance for the next month. Doing this disrespectfully will be discouraging and they will feel their manager has no respect for them.
Moreover, if you’re talking to your team about COVID-19 safety protocols, you might want to sympathise and comfort your team so they know their concerns are met and they feel safe.
Often, it is acceptable to confront a situation like so; “When you don’t contribute to the team meetings, it can be frustrating”. But it should be approached carefully and in the right way, with the right tone to deter possibility of conflict or accusations. To solve a problem like this, you need to focus on emotion and perhaps mutually clarify work-related expectations – this way emotions are expressed but dealt with professionally.
- Ask Questions:
Effective communication is a two way street and requires a continued amount of effort from both manager and employee. Asking the right questions may get you the answers you’ve been looking for to implement the right changes. It shows that you, as a leader are listening to your employees, showing empathy, understanding and a great deal of respect.
Encourage employees to ask questions too, this will certainly help to create effective business communication.
So, the only way to truly engage your workforce and make sure that your business is moving in the right direction is to focus on improving communication. The easier it is for your employees to communicate effectively, the more you’ll find a collaborative workforce and full alignment of organisational values.