Please do start using the ‘C’ word more in business…..

Often I go into businesses and the staff are all moaning about that ‘C’ word.  I don’t know what you’re thinking but I’m obviously talking about Communication!  (Maybe I should’ve been clearer!!)

Communication seems to be one of the biggest problems in many businesses – there’s not enough of it, they’re drowning us with it, it’s never clear!  Can businesses ever get it right?

With more and more people working from home, working separate shifts, working staggered work patterns and/or having to take on more duties there’s never a better time to review and embed your communication strategy.

Here are my top tips for getting communication right in the workplace.

  1. Plan

The first thing you need to do is draw up your strategy and ensure all the leaders are on board with it.  Good communication needs to start from the top.  Work out who needs to know what, when they need to know it, how it will be delivered and who will share it.

Don’t expect everybody or somebody to share information because you’ll probably find nobody does!  Make communication part of your culture and everyone’s responsibility.

  1. Ensure the whole workforce is included

With remote workers, outside workers, night workers and day workers now engaged by many businesses it is really easy to forget to include everyone.  With technology as it is today there is no reason why everyone shouldn’t be communicated with without it interfering with their schedules.  Phone calls, emails, team meetings, letters or blogs – so many options.

Just make sure you always choose the appropriate method depending on the message to be delivered and also consider the recipient – what is the best approach for them to receive that news?  Be thoughtful and consistent.

  1. Keep communication regular

Instead of relying on annual reviews to communicate with employees, schedule regular one to ones or check in’s so that you can keep up to date on where your employees are at (maybe see our LION video for more help with this), how they are feeling, and what they might need from you to best contribute to the team.

Hold team and/or company meetings to ensure everyone feels part of the bigger picture and therefore encouraging more communication between individuals and teams as well although a big part of getting the team meetings right is ensuring they are meaningful – don’t just have meetings for meetings sake.  Make sure there is a purpose for the meeting and ensure there are outcomes that everyone is clear about.

  1. Ask for feedback

Ask your teams what is or isn’t working.  Remember communication is two way – up and down so make sure they are aware their feedback counts.  It is never going to be right if it is one way.

If it isn’t working amend the plan – nothing should be set in stone.  In order for communication to be effective it also needs to be relevant so review regularly to make sure it is.

  1. Always make sure your communications are clear……

Whatever communication approach you take one of the most important things to remember is having a clear message.  Good news, bad news, exciting news or instructions…..if you don’t want issues to arise later on make sure you are always clear.

And this is a great example we came across that highlights this…..

A new employee is hired at the Tickle Me Elmo factory.  The HR Manager explains her duties and tells her to report to work promptly at 8.00am.

 The next day there is a knock at the HR Managers door.  The assembly line manager comes in and starts ranting about the new employee.  He says she is incredibly slow and the whole line is backing up.  The foreman takes the HR Manager down to the factory floor to show him the problem.

 Sure enough, Elmos are backed up all over the place.  At the end of the line is the new employee.  She has a roll of material used for the Elmos and a big bag of marbles.  They both watch as she cuts a little piece of fabric, wraps it round two marble and starts sewing the little package between Elmo’s legs.

 The HR Manager starts laughing hysterically.  After several minutes he pulls himself together, walks over to the woman and says “I’m sorry, I guess you misunderstood me yesterday.  I said your job is to give Elmo ‘two test tickles’ …..

We hope this has given you a little chuckle and made you think about the communications within your business.  If you find you’ve always got people complaining about communication in your workplace and you need some guidance or support with your strategy give us a call, together we can clearly come up with a plan of action!

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