Many small business managers don't realize until it's too late just how important it is to maintain open channels of workplace communication.
Communication Skills Assessment
To evaluate the quality of your workplace communication and identify areas where you could improve, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you accessible to your employees? Managers should never assume that workers will contact them to ask for advice or alert them to a problem. Nor should managers feel confident that every message they send electronically will be clearly understood by the recipient. Instituting an open-door policy – and making staff aware of it – will encourage greater communication in the workplace. This does not mean you have to be available at all times, of course. If your schedule permits, establish weekly "office hours" when employees can have face time with you. Your staff will appreciate your willingness to regularly set aside time for direct workplace communication.
- How often do you meet one-on-one with your workers? While an open-door policy will enhance workplace communication, some employees may worry that they will be bothering you with their questions or problems. Proactive outreach on your part can assure staff that you really do want to interact with them more frequently. One way to help ramp up communication with all employees is to provide constructive feedback to them more often. For instance, instead of holding only one performance review annually, consider scheduling mini-reviews every couple of months. By communicating more often with employees individually, you can adapt your management approach to the particular needs and personalities of each worker. This can make all the difference in enhancing the quality of communication in the workplace.
- Do you praise employees as often as you should? Hard-working professionals want to feel they are valued by the organization. They appreciate being recognized for a job well done. Managers who offer praise can help enhance their staff retention efforts.
- Do you help control the rumour mill? Direct and honest communication from management is especially critical when an organization is going through change. Keeping your team updated as often as possible can relieve anxiety, help workforce morale remain in positive territory and prevent rumours from spreading.