If you and your boss have identified that the business is struggling from a lack of positive communication in the workplace, the alarm bells should be well and truly ringing. You’re right to be doing something about it.
This post explores different ways in which you can increase the amount of positive communication in the workplace and encourage more productivity as a result. It will give you some actionable tips and ideas to try, as well as advice on how to manage the whole exercise.
If You, Your Boss Or Team Leaders Are Still In Any Doubt, Here Are A Few Problems Caused By Poor Communication In The Office
It may be the case that you are unsure of the extent of the communication problems in your office. It could be that you have spotted something which the bosses haven’t and you want to make a case for highlighting how important the issue is and how to fix it.
The Symptoms Of Poor Communication In The Office
A silent office, crippled by fear to speak out, is a huge red flag. Less senior staff should be confident to speak out to their managers if a task is unclear, their workload is too heavy, there’s an issue with a client that needs additional support, or whatever the problem may be.
Communication should work up and down the seniority stream in order to avoid becoming poor and counter productive.
Furthermore, managers should communicate to their junior colleagues in a way which is encouraging, respectful and promotes a confidence to experiment. This level of open communication will help achieve better results across the whole business.
If the way a manager addresses their team is too brief or not able to be countered with questions – your office has a communication problem.
But don’t forget that poor communication doesn’t need to mean there is a lack of communication overall.
First, talking too much about what needs doing. Observe how much time is spent, over a two week period, talking about issues instead of working on them. Also, try and spot any long-winded means of communicating tasks and feedback. Look out for: long email chains, repetitive or frequent meeting schedules, and phone calls which are frequently long and drawn out.
Second, talking too much about anything and everything. There could be plenty of communication amongst colleagues in your office, but if it’s about anything other than work, it can be categorised as “poor.”
Look out for the amount of off-task chats and catch-ups happening. If it’s anything beyond what you’d consider reasonable to expect from a professional working environment, there’s going to be problems.
The Effects Of Poor Communication In The Office
The core of the matter is that it creates a workforce which is disengaged, low on morale and less productive. This creates an unpleasant atmosphere in the workplace and it will lead to a higher rate of staff turnover.
Also, this problem is compounded over time. Staff leave and spread the word about your company to new and former colleagues, friends, and family. This impacts your brand and ability to attract new talent.
Combined with lower results and output by your team of employees, this results in a hit to your company’s bottom line. All because of a lack of positive communication in the workplace.
Tips To Make Communication In The Office More Positive
The surest way to improve communication quality in your office is to create a changed culture of dialogue and interaction.
Some of these changes are fundamental ways of working which can take time to develop, but they are the best way of making a cultural change in your workplace. Whilst other tips in this list are more practical.
But, combined together, these tips are sure to make the communication channels in your business help productivity, morale and, ultimately, profit:
- Make Feedback Compulsory & A Two Way Conversation. Make sure that whenever a manager is issuing instructions or feeding back results to a junior staff member, the junior has the chance to question what’s happening. They should have the chance to raise any potential issues and have them noted by their manager. And then they should be taken into account next time.
- Shorten Meetings & Use Strict Agendas. Set a limit on meetings in terms of time and agenda items. Most unproductive meetings are a farce because people involved either want to keep chatting through issues to: elevate their own importance, avoid starting a new task which they are putting off, or want to let off steam and relax under the guise of working. Meetings of fewer than 30 minutes and with no more than 3 agenda items can remove a lot of wasted time.
- Use Daily Start Meetings. Start each and every day in the office with a five minute team meeting. In this meeting, each staff member – from MD to Apprentice – answers the following questions in turn and this helps to build an open and transparent culture. The questions are:
- What did you get done yesterday?
- What are you working on today?
- What might stop you getting this done?
- Use The Latest Communication Tech. There are a whole host of communication tools available to allow offices and office staff to communicate better. From project collaboration tools like Basecamp and discussion platforms like Slack, communicating ideas and feedback is more efficient when all the company can see it. Nothing is hidden away in email inboxes where it’s difficult to locate and messages aren’t being shared multiple times.
- Encourage Communication. Anything which encourages new voices to be heard will help promote a wider boost to communication around the office. This could be done via a different person chairing the weekly team meeting or a different voice presenting company news and updates each time.
- Lead By Example. These habits need to be enforced from above. But doing and showing are the best ways of inspiring cultural change, so don’t just tell staff what you want to happen and avoid practising what you preach.