Saturday, April 29, 2017

You’re Only As Good As Your Word: Why Workplace Communication is Broken and How To Fix It

"Communication is key," seems to be the answer to every inter-personal challenge. From relationship issues to a misunderstanding with co-workers, communication or lack thereof, is usually one of the prominent cultures. Communication seems like an inherent aspect of any company culture; after all, it is basic human instinct. So why is it so difficult for companies to get communication right? Unfortunately, communications is a problem that permeates almost every company. Many professionals see a disconnect between company-wide communications missions and standards, and what is actually practiced.

Internal communications can't be an afterthought or a hollow promise, because sound communications practices are a driving force behind employee engagement. When employees feel confused, unheard, or unwelcome to speak up, it leads to workplace unhappiness and high turnover rates – two problems in which companies across industries are scrambling to solve. According to a 2013 Harvard Business Review study, 70% of the surveyed employees felt most engaged at work when they felt that their employers made the effort to communicate and update the company consistently. What's interesting is that within the organizations that struggle to facilitate comprehensive internal communications practices, the external communications endeavors are deftly executed. Employees should be valued as much, if not more, than consumers; consumer loyalty is fleeting and employees are the resources that fuel a company.

Be Transparent

Communications policies have to start from the top down. Whether an organization is comprised of 5 or 5,000 people, founders and senior leadership have to take on the responsibility of sparking dialogue around company progress, updates, and change. When individuals see CEOs and CMOs making the effort to participate in ongoing internal dialogue, it sparks increased comfortability at the workplace. Holding quarterly company town halls in which employees have the chance to speak up and interact with leaders from outside their team is an effective way to continuously show employee appreciation.

Leverage Technology

As the physical workplace changes and more companies introduce flexible and virtual arrangements with their employees, there is an increasing need to incorporate technology that ensures communication is not lost just because employees are not physically present. Programs like Slack are designed to help distributed teams and employees stay in constant contact. Social tools are adept at breaking down communications barriers because they centralize internal conversations. Additionally, in business culture, work doesn't necessarily begin at 9 am and end at 5 pm; employees have an always-on, always-connected mentality and applications like Slack make it easy to talk and share files from anywhere at any time.

Set Regular Check-Ins

Just as it is important for senior management teams to spearhead company-wide communications programs, it is also necessary for managers to establish sound practices within their own teams. Making the effort to speak with each team member on a bi-weekly or monthly basis forges stronger relationships. The more time individuals spend working and conversing with their bosses, the more comfortable they are at work. When managers set and adhere to regular check-ins and an open-door policy, individuals feel heard and valued. One of the worst things a manager can do is create barriers with his/her team. When leaders block themselves off from employees, distrust grows rampantly. Strong manager-employee relations does not mean micro-managing and starting lengthy conversations around every small initiative, because this, too, irks employees. Ultimately, team members want to feel trusted by company leaders and the only way to instill steadfast trust is through regular (not incessant) check-ins and updates.

Educate

Communication is a two-sided street; just as leaders must make the effort to speak to their teams, workers must also feel empowered to speak up. Offering ongoing employee communications training that covers everything from public speaking to presentation design will not only help individuals feel more engaged within the company, but it will also give them the confidence to ask questions, voice feedback, and share exciting updates. Communication is a soft-skill, which means it often gets overlooked. Not every employee is comfortable with the idea of public speaking or client presentations, and it's up to organizations to provide opportunities for every employee to grow and develop confidence in their voices.

No business leader sets out to create an uncomfortable corporate environment steeped in secrecy and tense employee relations. But among the list of leadership responsibilities, including balancing budgets, ensuring client/customer happiness, and generating growth, internal communication often gets pushed to the backburner. Employees are the most valuable resource within every company and initiating company-wide transparent communication practices is the only way to ensure their engagement and happiness.



from Business 2 Community http://www.business2community.com/communications/youre-good-word-workplace-communication-broken-fix-01828923


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