How to Foster a Culture of Communication in Your Organization
As you move up the hierarchy in an organization, you become less involved in the day-to-day operations, including communicating with team members. To overcome communication barriers and create a more cohesive and productive organization — and retain your talented employees — you need to put concrete solutions in place. Follow these steps to improve communication within your company.
The higher the position in your organization, the more removed you become from day-to-day operations. In many cases, you might even be removed from your employees, causing barriers to collaboration without knowing it. These obstacles create opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstandings that can form tension in the workplace and eventually become detrimental to your organization as a whole.
As a busy executive, one solution to these issues is to prioritize stronger communication practices throughout your organization. This doesn’t just mean stating that your door is always open. It means putting measures in place to show workers how to communicate effectively with one another as well as with colleagues upstream and downstream.
One of the major benefits of ensuring your communication protocols are solid is that you’re less likely to lose great performers. According to a report by Salesforce, employees who feel heard are almost five times more likely to do their best work. This, naturally, makes them more apt to stick around because they feel like they’re an essential part of your solution, mission, and culture. If you have remote workers, you’ll be better off over-communicating so both in-person and remote employees feel connected to your organization overall.
The good news is that you’re probably not starting from scratch when it comes to creating sustainable communication in your business. But you can always find ways to improve and provide employees with even more reasons to stay. You can start by using the following recommendations to build upon the communication methods you already have in place:
- Embrace your role as a communication mentor.
Leading by example is a proven method to inspire others to adopt your preferred communication methods. For instance, let’s say you want your employees to feel comfortable providing proactive, thoughtful feedback. If you don’t do the same thing, your employees won’t be likely to, either.
As Gys Kappers, co-founder and CEO of Wyzetalk, writes in an article on corporate communications, “Simply flooding employees with information, and expecting them to be engaged, won’t work.” Kappers further explains: “Employers that fail to provide a two-way internal communication strategy fail to hear from their employees and therefore fail to engage them.”
Fortunately, strategies such as Kappers’ don’t have to be heavily documented or laden with protocols. Instead, your strategy should start with the communication behaviors you initiate and use daily. By asking for feedback and acting upon it, you can open the door to more knowledge exchanges between everyone in your company.
- Test different communication tools and outlets.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all organizational communication solution out there. Some teams love to use Slack, while others are fine with myriad synchronous or asynchronous communication tools. It might be wise to investigate all the possibilities and then try them one at a time to find which communication system produces the best results for your team.
Don’t overlook the channels you’re using at the moment. You might already have some communication channels in place that are being underutilized. Case in point: Your project management portal could be useful to encourage dialogue between teams rather than just for organizational updates. Gallup research shows that 93% of workers feel the communication they receive at work is not timely or accurate. So, start looking for ways to improve the precision and reliability of your team’s messaging by giving team members communication options and training them on the best ways to use those systems.
- Invest in employees’ professional development.
Sometimes, people aren’t willing to communicate because they’re not sure what to say. They might be uncomfortable offering their insights out of fear of being seen as uneducated, unskilled, or unusable in certain areas. Consequently, you’re left making decisions without their potentially valuable opinions.
Fortunately, you can help everyone on your team feel more confident about collaboration by offering retraining and upskilling programs. You might also find that you improve your retention in the process. In a survey by LinkedIn, 94% of professionals said they would stay with an employer if the employer gave them regular learning and development opportunities.
The more know-how your employees pick up, the more apt they’ll be to speak up. They won’t sit silent during brainstorming sessions. They might even offer to train their co-workers in their newfound discoveries. Ultimately, you’ll be developing a workforce that’s ready and eager to lead and communicate.
The ability to freely exchange information at any time through a variety of portals is an asset to any company. Though you might not be able to sit down with every employee, you can certainly make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Your reward will be less communication “loose ends” and a company operating with cohesiveness and productivity.
Written by Rhett Power.
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