Improving Your Workforce Communications
Business success has always depended on effective workforce communications, but never more so than these days with growing employee diversity and more staff working from remote locations and home offices. Leaders need to balance two types of communications in the workplace – formal and informal. Formal communications include various types of digital and print messages such as companywide emails, interoffice memos, employee handbooks, performance reviews, and notices about benefits and retirement savings programs. Informal communications generally consist of verbal exchanges between managers and employees throughout the course of the workweek. All forms of communication should be responsive to the growing diversity of employees by respecting each person’s gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and national origin. In addition, most companies are starting to recognize generational diversity ranging from Baby Boomers to Generation X to Millennials
. Employers should craft their communications with these different audiences in mind. For instance, millennials often become frustrated by annual reviews because they expect real-time feedback from their managers and colleagues. Managers should consider touching base through less formal quarterly reviews, or even monthly check-ins. Some employees tend to tune out the bulk of company messages, while others desire to stay informed about any changes or initiatives within the company. If people sense that their leaders are not forthcoming with information, they may even feel undervalued and unappreciated. Effective communications are especially important when managing team members based in different locations. A number of online collaboration tools are available that enable team members to share documents and work on revisions together, such as Google Docs, Evernote
. In addition, remote teams can meet virtually through free voice and video services such as Skype
. The first step for successful communication involves listening closely to not just the words that are being said, but also by paying attention to the overall context of the conversation and the body language of others. Be inclusive of people in remote offices by encouraging them to add their own distinct perspectives. Here are some other specific pointers to improve workforce communications by successful entrepreneur Syad Balkhi, writing in the Huffington Post
- Meetings should feel like a safe zone where employees can discuss their views openly, without fear of reprimands or sharp criticisms.
- Interruptions should be avoided when others are speaking. Don’t start formulating your counter-arguments while they’re talking. Instead, try listening carefully to the opinions of others, even when you don’t fully agree with them.
- Try giving people your undivided attention by not constantly checking emails and text messages during meetings.
- Train the team to keep their email replies clear and concise. Also, avoid sending or replying to emails when you feel anxious or angry. Otherwise, you may send out a message that you will regret later.
- If you cannot answer emails right away, send a courtesy reply to others letting them know you will respond soon, so they’re not left hanging.
- Sometimes, emails or instant messages are inadequate for the topic and it’s better to make a phone call or meet directly with employees for face-to-face discussions.
Remember that successful workforce communications depend on each member of the team feeling valued, trusted and respected. When team members are encouraged to communicate clearly and openly
, great things start to happen.