Communication in the workplace isn’t just about how well you work with others. It’s about building relationships, minimizing errors, and most importantly, working as productively as possible.
Encouraging good communication habits throughout the workplace can be one of the most crucial things you do as a leader. Because the numbers don’t lie.
In a survey of 400 corporations, it was found that communication barriers cost an estimated $37 billion per year in lost productivity.
So, what effective communication skills can you install in your workplace, and how do you do it?
Why is workplace communication important?
Good communication can boost teamwork and lead to better project collaboration. It applies to practically every industry.
Workplace communication is important for streamlining internal communication. Maintaining effective communication ensures that management and the team below them are on the same page. That means that employees are confident with the work at hand and managers are assured that team members are correctly undertaking that work.
Part of this is understanding a “shared meaning.” This refers to the real information being understood by each party involved, using words that mean the same to everyone, especially when it’s industry-specific terminology.
“Signal amplification,” on the other hand, is when information is misconstrued and presumed understood. This is when you tell an employee, “I thought you understood what I meant,” without double-checking whether they did at the time. Sometimes, signal amplification can occur when the correct communication channel wasn’t used. For instance, sending a quick, poorly constructed instant message when it should have been a phone call.
This infographic shows how emails vs video calls can impact your business:
This doesn’t just cause costly mistakes, but in some cases, it can be fatal.
Imagine you’re a construction site manager. Workplace communication here is vital to ensure all business goals are met and that projects are completed in a timely manner. Effective communication in this environment is also largely about safety.
New health and safety regulations are approved all the time, so you’ve got to ensure your team is constantly kept up to date. If you fail to alert your workers to a new law or change in your code of conduct, it can be dangerous to employees. In this instance, your communication skills are needed to communicate with those making the laws and your employees who need to abide by them. You can’t afford to slack off.
Other reasons workplace communication is important for team members, include:
- It helps to improve employee productivity
- Employees feel confident about their tasks
- It encourages team building
- It gives everyone a voice
Though your poor communication as a business leader may not lead to fatal accidents, it can still hinder work progression and leave employees feeling demotivated.
This eBook goes into detail about communication and how it can positively impact both employees and your business.
How do we communicate in the workplace?
Believe it or not, some managers have expressed that they’re uncomfortable with giving feedback.
This comes from an Interact survey asking employers how they feel about communicating with their employees. The graph below demonstrates how managers feel in certain situations with employees:
A staggering 69% of managers are uncomfortable when communicating in general. Not even when delivering difficult news or offering feedback. That’s just in basic, everyday communication. This suggests that communication is lax across many workplaces, which can potentially negatively impact the business.
This has to change.
As a business leader, you need to analyze how you communicate in the workplace in order to see where you can improve. Then, you can develop a strong communication strategy for everyone to work from. Here are the most common ways we communicate with colleagues and employees in the workplace, including the communication tools involved:
With the workplace environment becoming more flexible, many employees choose to work from home. But this doesn’t mean they should miss out on team meetings. They want to see body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and everything else that you’d pick up on from face-to-face communication.
That’s where video calling comes in. With video calling, you can effectively communicate with employees who are working remotely while still offering the experience of being in a meeting.
That’s because you can see each other and communicate clearly. Body language is often undervalued as part of communication, when in fact it’s still important for the other person to see you. Although phone calls and messaging are both great forms of communicating, sometimes a video call is more beneficial if you want to give a more personal approach. This can be particularly useful for reviews or appraisals.
You can also host team meetings, often with up to 100 people depending on the software you use. This is great for businesses that operate on a global scale, where you can’t always travel for meetings.
Workplace communication isn’t just about communication with employees, but also how you reach out to clients and build great, long-lasting relationships. When you can’t have in-person conferences, video is the next best thing. By embracing video conferencing software, you’re able to communicate with clients, wherever, whenever.
This lets clients know that you’re easily reachable whenever they need you. This can be crucial when you’re building a relationship with a client or trying to get them on board. If a client feels as though your communication is poor, no matter how good the service is that you’re offering, they may choose to look elsewhere.
Messaging can be one of the main ways that coworkers communicate when they’re out of town or working remotely. Although messaging isn’t always used as the number one means of communication, it can be greatly beneficial alongside video or phone calls.
When it comes to managing remotely, messaging is often needed after a phone call to recap what was said—a good idea when you want to ensure your employee has understood everything. It can also be quicker than typing out an email and leaves less room for miscommunication, as any queries can be quickly and efficiently cleared up.
Some software, like RingCentral, enables you to phone, message, and video call all in one place:
Emails are a popular way to communicate in an office from peer-to-peer or B2B. However, as times have moved on and people are becoming more proficient in using video calling software and cloud phone systems, emails are used less and less often.
As per our earlier graph, 16% of managers said they feel uncomfortable speaking face-to-face rather than via email. Considering communication is better understood when verbal and face-to-face, this is a worrying statistic. As a leader, you have to be confident in non-verbal communication, especially when it comes to employees.
Another way in which managers communicate with their team members is through performance reviews. These reviews can be monthly, quarterly, or yearly depending on the type of business you run. They’re important for employees to understand how well they’re getting on at work.
Not only this, but it’s also an opportunity for the employee to communicate with the manager if they’re experiencing any issues or have constructive criticism for the business. It’s a form of open communication, where both parties are expected to be honest and upfront about their experiences. Performance reviews are typically carried out in person, but when this isn’t possible, video calls can be just as effective.
What are good workplace communication skills?
Not everyone has a natural talent for excellent communication. For many, it’s a learned skill. There are several good workplace communication skills, with the following being the ones that are it’s most important for you to master:
1. Listening to others
It sounds simple, but it’s often not practiced enough. Listening to others is arguably the most important communication skill you can have. If you find you’ve got the tendency to talk over others, then try to be more patient. You will get the opportunity to make your point when they’re finished—especially if you’re the boss.
It’s easy to miss crucial details when you’re too busy thinking about what you want to say when the other person is still talking. If you’ve got a few main points in mind that you’d like to get across, write them down so you don’t forget.
When employees feel like they’re being listened to, they feel more valued and appreciated. It also gives you the chance to understand issues or concerns about a task from an employee’s perspective. This can improve employee engagement.
2. Brevity for effective workplace communication
Speak to any successful business manager and they’ll all mention that time is their most important asset. When discussions are dragged out, not only can this dilute the importance of the message, but it can also over-complicate it. Keep your communication brief and to the point.
Don’t presume the other person understands what you’re saying. Similarly, don’t be afraid to speak up if you need clarity on something. Asking questions can help you to gain a better understanding of certain situations, and you should always be encouraging your employees to ask you if they’re unsure.
Not only can this improve relations with employees, but it can also help to minimize errors. Sometimes a simple question to double-check can save mistakes from happening.
4. Communication style
Social media and text messaging has led us to constantly feel like we need to respond immediately. This isn’t such a bad thing when it comes to business. Especially for clients when they expect you to be there when they want you. But in order to give them the best service possible, you need to refine your communication style.
Perhaps you like to schedule a call and then follow up with some meeting notes. On the other hand, maybe you prefer to video call and catch up with a phone call later on down the line. Either way, you need to make an effort to establish a routine, so your colleagues and clients know what to expect.
This also refers to the frequency of communication. If you respond a minute after your client contacts you, then they’re going to become accustomed to that high level of communication, which you may not always be able to deliver.
Open-mindedness is another good communication skill to have. It allows you to enter a conversation free of judgment or preconceived ideas, giving the person speaking the confidence to explain new ideas that could potentially benefit the business.
If you’re quick to shut things down, then employees will be less inclined to tell you their ideas. Your conversations will be less honest, and less productive because of this. By keeping an open mind you’re willing to enter into a dialogue with someone whose opinion you may not agree with, and you may surprise yourself by the end of it.
What are the benefits of effective communication in the workplace?
Effective communication within the work environment can have a plethora of benefits, particularly for employees and the business overall. Some key benefits of high-level business communication are:
Get ready to increase productivity when you master workplace communication. As a manager, you know your employees’ strengths and skill sets, so you’re able to give clear instructions to those who suit each job best.
When you effectively communicate in concise points, you’re eliminating time spent on trying to get your point across and back-and-forth questions from your employees. This frees up time, therefore boosting productivity.
Good workplace morale
Great communication skills between colleagues is a sign of a strong team. Collaboration in a work environment is important, and when employees are communicating effectively and efficiently, they tend to collaborate more on tasks.
That makes them happier, improves employee engagement, and gives them a bigger sense of fulfillment when communication is good.
Project delivery is a lot smoother with great communication. You’re able to speed up the process and reduce errors, meaning you can take on more tasks. If more projects are being delivered, then you’re able to increase your business growth and your bottom line.
Employees can feel frustrated if their ideas aren’t executed well or if another employee fails to understand a task they’re collaborating on. It leaves them feeling angry and undervalued.
By setting out guidelines on the way your employees should be communicating with one another, you’re reducing the chance of conflict. That’s when employees may have different ways of communicating, and therefore the message is misunderstood.
A universal way isn’t going to work for everyone, but there are certain recommendations you can put in place—like encouraging video conferencing rather than emails.
How can you be an effective communicator at work?
As a business leader, being an effective communicator at work is vital. One of the best ways you can improve communication within your company is to invest in amazing communication tools. This includes cloud-based communication and collaboration software.
The right software can enable your employees to communicate quickly and effectively, especially if they’re working remotely. As you’ve seen, video conferencing and phone calls can allow you to stay connected, no matter where you are. This, coupled with a great communication strategy for the office, can help you to be an effective communicator with clients and colleagues alike.
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