$37 billion sounds like a lot of money, right? That’s how much businesses across the world have lost as a result of poor communication. This figure proves that a company can have state-of-the-art technology, best-in-class equipment, and certified geniuses on their staff, but communication is still the x-factor that holds everything together. It’s what keeps employees on the same page and contributing to shared business goals in unison.
If you’re wondering what steps your company can take to improve internal communication and avoid contributing to the above statistic, read on.
Define Open-Door Policies
What even is an open-door policy? Many businesses use this term generically to indicate that management is receptive to hearing from employees, but few are specific about what this actually entails. Do leaders outline specific hours where employees are encouraged to stop in and share their thoughts? Do managers actually leave their doors open and remind their departments to stop in?
For companies seeking constant improvement, it’s important to make employees comfortable bringing up thoughts, concerns, or problems they’ve identified. When looking to draw out this information, consider the form of communication that will help different individuals open up. Some may be more apt to share their thoughts via email. Others will prefer the phone or a quick in-person conversation, while others may only feel comfortable filling out an anonymous survey. Encouraging every form of communication, no matter the method, is how companies fulfill coveted growth mindsets.
Strengthen Feedback Loops
Proper communication isn’t a one-way street, but do managers and supervisors in your business recognize that? Feedback from employees is critical to a company’s growth and success; after all, they’re the ones carrying out the day-to-day front-line responsibilities that allow your company to run smoothly. What are they seeing? What problems have they discovered, and what are their suggestions for solutions?
Managers who ask subordinates to collaborate are the ones who encourage strong feedback loops. Best yet, these cycles of communication aren’t just for when issues arise. Opening up this channel of communication can prevent problems from occurring while helping everyone maintain best practices. If open-door policies are meant to encourage employees to give feedback, then feedback loops are meant to encourage management to ask for that feedback.
Rethink Modern Meetings
If your organization’s meetings are being conducted the same way today that they were a decade ago, it might be time to throw meeting playbooks out the window. Too many corporate cultures are plagued by unnecessary or unproductive appointments. Consider the true purpose of any meeting. If an employee is required to sit in on one, are they contributing in some way? Is sitting in a conference room truly the best method for communicating the information at hand?
The best meetings are used as collaborative brainstorming sessions rather than lectures or monologues. The majority of the time should be spent in discussion, not presentation. If one person is showcasing information and there is no discussion about it, then that is probably something that could have been shared via email. The last thing you want is staff becoming numb to meetings, effectively making them desensitized to later attempts at real communication. Be deliberate about meeting agendas and consider more frequent informal check ins with staff in lieu of long, formal meetings.
Implement a Buddy System
Whether it’s a mentorship, coaching, or buddy program, there are many ways to partner two employees together to strengthen communication. Formal programs are great structure for eliciting feedback, while informal programs can help encourage employees to collaborate better with peers. Putting together buddies within similar roles gives an employee a go-to person to contact with everyday questions. Alternatively, partnering employees from entirely different departments can break down silos, improve the understanding of how one role’s actions affects another’s, and enhance cross-company communication. No matter the form, designating one employee as a resource for another can do wonders for reaching your company goals.
Refine Onboarding and Training
In sports, they say that the way you practice is the way you play. This mentality also applies to businesses when it comes to new-employee onboarding or professional development and training throughout an employee’s tenure. By their nature, these activities are lopsided and meant to impart information in one direction. While this can help new employees get up to speed or help seasoned employees learn new systems or skills, it unfortunately sets a precedent that can hurt communication.
During onboarding, training, and even recruiting, make it as collaborative as possible by asking for feedback. What does one think about a certain procedure? Did they do something similar for a previous employer or role? Is there any confusion? Make clear that feedback matters early on and they’ll take that mentality with them into their everyday job once onboarding or a training session ends. After all, great communication is a mentality, not just an action.
Improve Internal Communication
Just like building proficiency in a software program or learning a new language, communication is a skill that must be practiced. Creating an environment and culture that foster positive communication habits and attitudes in your business is crucial to helping employees blossom into great communicators. Doing so will better connect your organization, avoid confusion, and help your bottom line stay healthy.
Looking for employees who can communicate clearly? Learn more about ATR’s staffing services.