Five ways to improve communication in the workplace

Communication in the workplace is a crucial aspect of running a business. Developing effective communication is also one of the biggest challenges facing companies and organizations.

Nancy Priest, learning strategist and owner of Glass of Learning, says communication in a family business can be especially difficult. Relatives form new relationships as colleagues at work and risk slipping back into communication in their family roles.

Why does it matter: Effective workplace communication improves employee engagement and productivity. It is critical to the success and growth of any business.

“We get very little education in how to be a great communicator, so a lot of the communication styles we learned were learned in our families,” she says.

To improve workplace communication in family and non-family businesses, Priest recommends five tactics.

1. Choose your method.
“I always recommend developing a team charter to outline the structure of how things are run,” she says. This should include communication methods to be used within the team and when, such as weekly emails and monthly in-person meetings, as well as ground rules of engagement.

It is also important to decide on a method of communication about day-to-day operations. Since most people have a smartphone with them, Priest sees more teams using text messages or WhatsApp chats to stay in touch.

In a farming operation, the structure might be an in-person or virtual meeting on Monday morning to plan the week, followed by daily text check-ins to make sure everyone is on track.

2. Listen.
Priest teaches her clients to remove guilt, shame, and any preconceived notions they may have about their peers when listening.

When leaders listen quietly and without interruption, they show employees that they are valued and understood.

3. Encourage feedback.
Open and honest communication includes two-way dialogue. Allowing the team to share feedback and ask questions is key to making employees feel heard and not just talked about.

“Every employee in every business wants to feel like they have a place and can contribute and make a difference,” says Priest.

Leaders should be aware of who is speaking and who is not. Quieter team members may be encouraged by questions such as “What do you think about this?” or “How would you like to be involved?”

4. Practice overcommunication.
More often than not, Priest finds that employees want more communication in the workplace.

“They don’t want long meetings, but they want frequent contact bases so they feel like they’re part of a community and a work group,” she says.

While leaders may think they’ve already communicated a point, some employees need to hear it multiple times to increase message retention or to recognize that a decision has been made and the topic is closed.
In agriculture, check-ins are also important for the safety of those working in isolation and performing hazardous tasks. Framing frequent communication as a safety measure rather than micro-management allows employees to think about it from a different perspective.

5. Consider different styles.
Everyone has a unique personality that affects how they communicate. Learning about communication styles can help people understand why they are different and why they have challenges communicating with each other.
Understanding each team member’s strengths and interests can also help leaders assign tasks and allocate resources more effectively.

Priest recommends using tools like the DiSC assessment, which measures personalities against four benchmarks of dominance, influence, stability, and conscientiousness, to gain a deeper understanding of each team member and ultimately improve communication and productivity. Five ways to improve communication in the workplace

Back to top button