As they say, “communication is key.” And effective communication is especially essential to a fully functioning workplace. As a leader, you rely on communication in almost every aspect of your role, whether you’re communicating in board meetings, vision casting sessions, emails, performance overviews, and more.
In the absence of healthy communication practices, workplaces can often feel stagnant or rife with tension. Employee engagement also tends to see a dip, leading to dissatisfied team members and subpar performance and work output. When communication is at its best, though, a workplace can thrive and truly function at its best.
Below, we’re sharing 4 quick and easy tips to help you improve communication in the workplace.
1. Body Language
Communication isn’t just about what’s spoken. It’s also about the non-verbal cues that you give your employees. Your body language has more of an impact on your team than you may realise, as it’s often the first indication of whether you’re an open and approachable individual. Is your body language promoting a positive physical presence? Here are 5 easy ways to ensure it is:
- Always smile when speaking with your employees (greet them with a “good morning” at the start of the workday as well)
- Keep your arms uncrossed at all times (crossed arms communicate a defensive posture)
- Maintain eye contact so that employees feel you’re engaged with their words
- Nod every so often to demonstrate you’re listening attentively
- Maintain an upright posture (slouching to one side or shifting your weight from one foot to the other communicates that you’re bored and want the conversation to be over)
2. The Echo Effect
Misunderstandings in the workplace can happen more often than most of us would like. Often, this is because one party feels their words were misinterpreted or not sufficiently understood. One quick and easy way to resolve this is to always employ the Echo Effect in your communications.
Author and Speaker Steven Handel writes, “A recent study published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology…found that mirroring people’s words can be very important in building likability, safety, rapport, and social cohesion. When you use the ‘echo effect,’ you – to some degree – put yourself closer to the world that the other person lives in. This gives you a better chance to empathize with that person and truly understand where they are coming from and why they speak and behave in the way they do.
So for instance, if an employee were to say, “I feel upset whenever meetings run long because it cuts into my work output,” you would echo their words back to them. You might say: “I can understand why you would feel upset about meetings running long, since it cuts into your work output. What are some ways you think might help resolve this issue?”
Many workplaces make the mistake of making communication a one-way street, and the direction it takes is usually from the top to the bottom. Meaning only those in high-level positions are the ones doing the talking. But it’s important to ask your employees for their thoughts and feedback as well. By doing so, you show that you value their opinion, that their ideas matter to the company, and that they play a role in the bigger picture (which boosts morale and also helps employees engage with the significance of their positions).
There are numerous ways to ask for feedback from employees. At the end of meetings, you can set aside a time where employees share their thoughts and ideas. In company-wide emails, you can include wording at the bottom along the lines of: “What are your thoughts on this new change in our company? I’d love to hear them. Hit reply, and let me know what you think.” Many companies also offer a platform that allows for anonymous feedback, as some employees simply don’t feel comfortable sharing feedback for whatever reasons. Tools like OfficeVibe make this possible, allowing for anonymous surveys, feedback, and conversations that inspire honest communication.
4. Performance reviews
Many workplaces have annual reviews for all employees. In especially large companies, this may be the only opportunity when employees have face-to-face time with high-level leaders. Why not switch from an annual model to a monthly model?
There are two benefits to this. First of all, employees will have the chance to receive more feedback on their performance, allowing them to improve and implement constructive criticism on a quicker timeline. Imagine the growth that could occur for each member of your team if you were addressing their strengths and areas of improvement every month instead of once a year? You would position them to accelerate their learning curve.
Secondly, more touch-points throughout the year allows you to stay up to date with how your employees are feeling, what they might need from you to put forth their best work, and where they’re at emotionally/mentally when it comes to their roles. Not only will this allow your employees to feel like human beings that are seen and heard (and not just workers in a company doing a job), but you’ll be better able to build up your team and give them what they need to thrive in their positions.
Communication is an important part of any workplace. When it’s missing, employees often experience job dissatisfaction and lower productivity. But when a leader takes the time to improve communication, through the above strategies and others, you’ll often find that employees are happier, more engaged with their work, and more productive than ever.
Which communication tip will you implement in the workplace this week?