Six Dos and Don’ts for Improving Communication in the Workplace
Technology has made our world a lot smaller in a short amount of time. We’re closer than ever, regardless of the physical distance between us. As a result, workforces are spreading out. Companies are looking beyond their cities, time zones, and even countries to find the best talent for the job.
While there are several benefits of working with a diverse global workforce, this new model comes with some unique challenges. Among them is the issue of improving communication in the workplace.
Here, we’ll look at some types of workplace communication and some dos and don’ts for improving communication in the workplace.
What are the types of workplace communication?
Visual Communication. Visual communication such as presentations, videos, screen shares, photos, and graphics make it easier to clarify concepts. This becomes more important if you’re trying to show someone how to use a tool or explain what you have in mind for a particular process. We recommend using sales enablement software like Bigtincan which makes it easy to share resources quickly.
Written Communication. Written communication includes emails, chats, and memos. Generally speaking, written communication is the easiest way to keep in touch with colleagues, especially when you’re working in different time zones. Unfortunately, written communications lead to a whole range of misunderstandings, as people tend to read between the lines to gauge how the sender is feeling.
Verbal Communication. In-person meetings and phone calls might top the list when it comes to sources of workplace dread, but they’re vital for effective communication. If you’re working with a remote team, phone and video chat are crucial for clarifying points quickly and building relationships with your colleagues.
Non-Verbal Communication. Body language and facial expressions are something we take for granted working in a traditional office. Things like eye contact and a relaxed stance put people at ease and make them feel acknowledged. In person, non-verbal cues are just part of the day-to-day experience. For remote workers, that missing component can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of context. In this case, improving workplace communications depends on making time for video calls to bridge that connection gap.
Improving communication in the workplace: dos and don’ts
If you face the challenge of achieving effective communication in the workplace, start with this list of dos and don’ts:
Do: Keep communications concise. 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 a 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.
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.
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 only 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 be distracting to workers. Instead, opt for communication platforms that reduce noise by organizing and prioritizing information and make time for phone calls or video chats.
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, specific departments weekly, and the entire staff twice per month. Make sure the frequency of your communication is helping your team be more productive, not taking them off-task more than necessary. That also means avoiding sending messages during off-hours. Employees might interpret this as a sign from the top that they’re part of an “always on” culture and feel pressure to reply at all hours themselves.
Do: Tailor messages to the person you’re speaking to. 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.
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: Be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. React to the suggestions and concerns from staff quickly. Make sure you take the time to consider new ideas that buck your organization’s norms and reward people for being innovative. Nothing prevents people from speaking up and sharing ideas like being shut down a few times.
Improving communication in the workplace takes time
A 2015 report by the Society for Human Resource Management found that the most critical factor when it came to job satisfaction was the “respectful treatment of all employees.” In the end, building a culture of respect has a lot to do with communication.
As such, leaders need to, well, take the lead and ask questions, discuss new ideas, and share content that educates, informs, or entertains.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re using several different communication methods to cultivate stronger connections. Often organizations with a large remote workforce say that chat apps help them cultivate a great internal culture. Sure, channels like Slack or Google Hangouts are useful for situations that demand quick responses, socializing with colleagues, or replacing long-running email chains.
However, even the best workplace chat threads aren’t a great replacement for talking to a real person. Be sure to make an effort to communicate with video or schedule a weekly call to share ideas or discuss progress.
Improving communication in the workplace can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. Request a demo to see how Bigtincan’s sales enablement tools help teams communicate more effectively.
CEO & Founder at WordWell Creative