I’ve long been of the belief that we as leaders don’t communicate enough. We sit in meetings and have a good grasp of what is going on.
We intend to take that information back to the people on the ground, but in the course of our busy schedules, we lose sight of the importance of sharing information with employees and communicating in the workplace.
Most employees come to work with the intention of doing a good job and take pride in what they do.
This makes them interested in what the organization is doing and what it has planned for the future.
There is not much that is more discouraging for an employee than to find out about a big new initiative, either through someone outside the organization or by watching the six o’clock news.
I’ve had both of these examples happen to me.
That does not make leadership bad, it just means that they (we) often need help thinking about communicating and putting systems and processes in place to do a better job of it.
According to a SHRM article, citing a March 2012 AMA Enterprise survey, only 9 percent of employees surveyed said they know what is going on most of the time and the majority, 55% of the 289 respondents, said employees feel informed some of the time.
“Too often, employees do not feel trusted or involved in any way in decision-making,” said Sandi Edwards, senior vice president for AMA Enterprise, in a media statement—especially when it comes to an organization’s business strategy or plans for the future.
Wow! This is a frightening thought, that most employees don’t really know what is going on. We need to commit to changing that!
How To Improve Communication in the Workplace
1. Develop a Communication Strategy
The first step is to get a group of employees in a room and develop a strategy for how the organization will communicate with employees.
This team should think through and define a process and purpose for better business communication management.
This will require considering who needs to know what information, when they need to know it, and how it will be delivered to them.
This strategy will help to create a standard for organizational communication.
For example, should new company endeavors be communicated when the idea is in the planning phase, when it is funded or when it is ready to launch?
Any of the three stages can be appropriate there just needs to be consistency in practice so employees know when to expect different levels of information.
2. Create a Communication Process
As with most things in business having a defined process – that is owned by someone – is the best way to ensure consistent communication.
This can be as simple as the secretary who takes meeting notes, sending a copy of the notes to a central communication person and that person is responsible for sharing it with all employees.
I know that is overly simplified but can be an effective and practical step in the process.
3. Multiply the Message
Over-communicate the message and use every available forum – email, newsletter, bulletin boards, business website, intranet, social media, staff meetings, town hall meetings, text messaging, or video delivery.
A common approach in advertising is to repeat a message. The marketing rule of 7, suggests that you need to expose a potential customer 7 times before they decide to make a purchase.
Determine to use this rule with employees. Figure out how to repeat the message, often.
The more often the message is communicated the better chance that employees will absorb it and remember it.
4. Explain the Why
Often leaders come up with a great idea, plan it, implement it, and may even communicate it but may not think to explain why a particular initiative makes sense at any given time.
We need to take the time to think about how an employee will perceive our great ideas.
5. Create Feedback Process
One way communication rarely works well. Create a forum for employees to offer feedback and ask questions.
This helps to ensure that the message was received as it was intended.
These feedback sessions can be done in staff meetings or an online employee forum.
Regardless of the structure or process, employees need to feel like their thoughts and opinions are heard.
This process also helps the organization identify areas that can be improved upon.
The more we can do to create open and timely communication the better we can manage the rumor mill and the hurt feelings that come with employees feeling like they are not in the loop.
What are some ways you communicate with your employees?