Employee Communication - Everything You Need to Know
JANUARY 24,2018 | MANAGEMENT | By SARA KELLY
So yes, you 'talk' to your employees regularly. You look at them, and words come out of your mouth.
But are you really 'communicating' effectively, or is it just words? Are your employees engaged with what you're saying, and can you see the results?
Effective communication with employees is one of the most critical business skills. Get it right, and you will drive a productive and motivated workforce. Get it wrong, and it will cost you big time.
Poor communication will cost your bottom line. A recent survey of 100 companies with 100 employees and a culture of poor communication discovered that the net profit impact was, on average, a staggering $420,000 annually! That is big bucks!
So why did this survey find that poor communication costs were so high?
Poor communication with employees is often simply vague communication. The result of this vagueness is that employees do not understand what is expected of them, resulting in operating inefficiently. Employees will also lack the confidence to push the limits of performance.
Employees always thrive in a workplace where they clearly understand the business goals and how they can contribute personally. This way, it becomes more than just a job; they come to work daily feeling motivated to do their bit and contribute to the bigger picture. However, if communication is poor, morale can suffer as staff are confused about their purpose. As a result, they underperform until they can find a new job that offers them motivation.
Without clear direction and feedback, stress can creep in quickly, making mistakes and errors a regular occurrence. This becomes a vicious cycle. Poor communication leads to stress, leading to even worse communication and additional stress. Untold employee mistakes impact profitability and, in certain workplaces, can be very dangerous.
Innovation is vital to any business. Creating a top-down culture where everyone, from junior employees to the boss, encourages and supports innovation is a must. However, poor communication can confuse, leaving employees without both the time and confidence to innovate and look at ways of improving their role.
So we now know why poor employee communication is bad, but how do we improve it?
1. Choice of Words.
Always be mindful of the words you use when addressing employees. Avoid jargon and speak clearly and slowly. This gives employees the time to digest what you're telling them and the ability to ask clarifying questions as the conversation proceeds.
Employees will, subconsciously, pick up on your tone. Your tone gives it all away if you're stressed, tired, angry or bored. This can be hard to manage as a business owner as we often have a range of more significant stresses on our minds when communicating with staff. However, try to be super self-aware of the tone and energy of your voice to get the best outcomes.
3. Body Language.
Eye contact, posture and hand contact speak volumes. If you're not looking at your employees and are sloshing in your chair, this sends a clear message that the communication is unimportant, and your employee will treat it accordingly. Your body language reveals the seriousness of the message and what you think of the person you're communicating with.
4. Watch and Adjust.
Everyone is different. While communicating, you must observe employee reactions and adjust as needed. Are they understanding? Are they listening? Do they look engaged? If you notice mid-way through communication that you're not getting the right signals, adjust your tone, words, and body language until you feel the communication is effective.
5. Bite-Size Pieces.
If the message you're trying to communicate is complex, it's always good to break it into bite-sized pieces to help your employees absorb in parts. It's also great to stop at each part of your communication and ask questions to the staff to check-in. "Any questions?" "So, what was the important message in what I've said so far?".
As explained earlier, every employee is different and has a different communication style. It's therefore vital to adjust your way of communicating to best suit each employee.
Below are some common communication styles you may find are preferred by individual employees:
1. Direct vs. Indirect.
Direct styles prefer when people speak up and are blunt and to the point. They don't want to waste time with fluffy communication. On the other hand, indirect communicators prefer to talk about a topic sideways without saying it directly. As a result, direct styles won't pick up on what indirect styles imply, and indirect communicators can easily offend by being too blunt.
2. Competitive vs. Affiliative.
Some employees are always in competition; others prefer group consensus. Competitive styles try to establish power and dominate. Affiliative styles, on the other hand, want input from others and are less assertive. As a result, affiliative styles go silent if competitive styles are allowed free reign.
Some people learn better through images or video. Others are quick to pick things up by hearing. Others need more hands-on experience. Try to offer a mix of both in meetings and training. When working one-on-one, tailor your communication accordingly.
Communication isn't a one-way street, though many managers seem to think so. Learn to listen.
When communicating, the basic rule of thumb is first to be aware of your deficiencies and all the moving pieces at work. Know that when you speak to a group of employees, they do not all perceive you the same way.
Good employee communication is hard work, but the payoffs are enormous.
Founder/CEO @ RosterElf
Magically Simply Staff Rostering.
RosterElf is built with you in mind. Our online staff scheduling tool handles all your employee scheduling needs.
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