Emails, Slack, Zoom: We have tons of ways to connect. Yet we seem to miss signals all the time, especially when it comes to communicating in the workplace.
Employees and managers alike regularly cite communication as a constant hindrance. Research collected by Queens University shows only about a quarter of workers feel confident about their business communication experiences. And that’s not great for engagement, which is crucial to corporate viability.
Although employee engagement is on the upswing, it’s still lacking. All isn’t lost, though. Tightening and heightening communications between you and your colleagues and clients can happen sooner rather than later. Start by implementing the following strategies to help bridge communication gaps.
1. Put need-to-know information in one place.
It’s tough to keep people on the same page if they don’t have access to pertinent information. Instead of having all your important documents, legacy recordings, data points, customer service records, and other items in a million places, put everything in one knowledge management repository. That way, everyone will be able to pull vital information at any time.
High-powered, cloud-based knowledge management software ensures your records remain safe in one easy-to-find location. Consequently, everyone on your team can unearth what’s needed and never feel left out.
2. Become a communication chameleon.
Everyone prefers specific communication channels. Your Millennial manager may respond faster to texts than emails. On the other hand, your newest Baby Boomer client prefers to jump into FaceTime sessions. Your role as a leader is to figure out how each person you serve likes to receive messages — and then follow suit.
Adapting to differing communication vehicles will produce feedback more rapidly, as well as improve your ability to change your communication mode to fit the situation and individual. Remember: You can learn a lot about the people around you when you understand their communication motivators.
3. Share calendars and to-do lists.
Do people in your office tend to drop the ball because they didn’t know who was supposed to do what? Does your assistant constantly schedule you for appointments when you thought you’d made it clear you weren’t available? The way around this communication hurdle is to make everyone’s tasks and work calendars visible.
Sharing calendars serves two purposes: First, it assists everyone in staying focused. Secondly, it holds employees accountable. Using the excuse “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that” no longer works when the assigned task has been on everyone’s shared calendar for weeks.
4. Practice the art of overcommunicating.
Most people undercommunicate because they worry about repeating themselves. However, science tells us that repetition is the key to remembering.
With this fact in mind, double up on your connection efforts. Send out reminders regularly, and follow up with your team members. If you think a client or co-worker should hear something, send a quick email or text. If the situation’s complex, set up a call.
5. Opt for discussions, not monologues.
Hosting routine meetings, such as Monday morning check-ins or biweekly retrospectives, makes communicating more efficient. Just be sure you’re not telling everyone what to do and sending them on their way without collecting their insights.
Communicative teams feel empowered to add their ideas to the table and ask questions during gatherings. By opening the door to collaborative discussions, you’ll foster creativity and innovation, not to mention engagement. Case in point: A Salesforce report indicated that workers who feel heard by their supervisors are 4.6 times as apt to deliver A-game performances.
6. Ask yourself, “Who needs to know this?”
Many times, communication stumbles occur because someone was left out of the information chain. Before assuming that you’ve covered your communications bases, ask yourself whether anyone else should hear about a certain item from you.
Make sure you loop remote workers in, too. Often, teleworking professionals, contractors, and even folks out sick or on vacation miss key information because they were “out of sight, out of mind.”
7. Stop scattershot emotional communications.
Do you have a habit of communicating whatever comes to mind whenever you feel like it? Chances are good that you’re undermining both your delivery method and the success of your communication efforts with this scattershot approach.
Rather than risk sending out an angry knee-jerk email or posting content filled with typos and contradictions, always jot down what you want to say before saying it. Be sure to edit prior to hitting the “Send” or “Publish” button. In the event that you’re feeling particularly incensed, wait at least an hour or two. This allows you to concentrate on being concise and level-headed with your message.
Learning how to more effectively communicate with your teammates takes practice and patience. Give yourself time, and you’ll see the benefits that come from leading team members who feel valued, heard, and mission-critical.