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Six Do’s and Don’ts of workplace communication (2019)

Technology continues to shrink our world, making us more closely connected to each other in spite of physical distance. As a result, workforces are growing further apart geographically. Companies are reaching outside of their offices, time zones and countries to nab the best talent and resources who will get the job done.

The benefits of a diversified and dispersed workforce are numerous, but managing that same workforce comes with its challenges. One of the biggest hurdles: achieving successful communication in the workplace. If you face the challenge of achieving effective communication in the workplace, start with this list of do’s and don’ts:

  1. Do: Stay concise and interesting. When you are dishing out information, keep it short, to the point, meaningful and appealing. If you’re speaking to a group, stay on topic and keep it under 20 minutes. If you’re communicating through content, make sure it’s visually stimulating and split up into bite-sized chunks.

    Don’t: Communicate without clear purpose. If you call meetings without clear purpose or bombard your people with long, noisy email chains, they will begin to check out. If you develop a reputation of purposeful communication, people will be on the lookout for information.

  2. Do: Be authentic. People are emotional beings. They are more likely to jump on your bandwagon when they can get on board with your vision. Show them you’re human too and they will be more likely to support you in good times and in bad.

    Don’t: Shy away from tough topics. Address hard topics honestly and with grace, but before it’s too late. Use regular reviews to help people correct mistakes and grow in their position. Keep your staff informed on the status of your company’s progress so they can be confident in the future.

  3. Do: Show up. The best way to communicate with people is face-to-face. Hold in person or virtual events so that your teams feel like they know you even if you’re separated by distance.

    Don’t: Rely on email or Chat Apps. Email is one of the most impersonal and ineffective ways to communicate with people. Chat apps, while effective for some communication, can get noisy. Black and white text no longer resonates with an audience who is used to interacting with dynamic, visual material. Opt for communication platforms that reduce noise by organizing and prioritizing information.

  4. Do: Be Consistent. Consistency shows commitment to your people. Make communication part of your routine so that everyone stays connected and aligned, always.

    Don’t: Overwhelm your people. Each employee requires a different amount of communication. You may need to meet with your managers daily, certain departments weekly, and the entire staff twice per month. Make sure the frequency of your communication is helping your staff be more productive, not taking them off-task more than necessary.

  5. Do: Be targeted. Different people require different information to be successful at their jobs. Apply knowledge communication directly to the people who can utilize it. Do not waste one person’s time with information they cannot use.

    Don’t: Leave anyone out. Making a staff member feel isolated or out of the loop is one of the fastest ways to lose them. Employees want to know their position matters and their work has purpose.

  6. Do: Listen. Your workforce needs a way to communicate information back up the chain of command. Use surveys to poll your staff on what is working and what is not. Often, it’s your staff in the field that will recognize problems long before you see them coming.

    Don’t: Get stuck in your box. React to the suggestions and concerns your staff brings to your attention in a timely manner. Take into consideration ideas that may be out of your comfort zone, and reward people for bringing progressive thoughts to the table.