It goes without saying that communication between managers and employees is one of the most important factors of any successful business. Clear and open communication ensures everyone is on the same page about objectives, direction, and expectations. It means everyone knows where they stand.
But if there’s a blockage there, your organization is likely going to run into some problems in the future.
So, what can be done to improve communication between managers and employees? This article looks at six of the most effective ways your organization can open up clear lines of communication and start working together as a team again.
Let’s take a look.
6 ways to improve communication between managers and employees
1. Meet weekly
Getting together as a team on a regular basis is one of the best ways to create a professional environment in which all team members feel comfortable communicating with each other. Weekly team meetings in particular can help break down any communication barriers between managers and employees by giving each team member an opportunity to talk openly about some of the following topics:
Projects they’re working on
Challenges they’re facing
Questions they might have
One way to improve communication in meetings like these is to keep them relatively informal. Managers should keep the conversation moving organically, but also make sure everyone is given adequate space to speak and feels safe doing so.
2. Regular 1:1s
Because communicating in groups can be difficult for some people, a good manager should create additional avenues of communication for their employees. The regularly held 1:1 meeting offers the perfect space for more direct conversation between managers and employees, and it’s also a great way to learn about each other’s preferred communication style (more on this later).
Depending on your workplace, 1:1 meetings can take the form of a quick informal chat about projects and ideas, or it can be more structured and formal. Whichever form yours takes, keep in mind that this is your opportunity to connect and collaborate with your employee or manager. It’s a chance to vent concerns, figure out solutions, and have a frank conversation about work (or anything else important to your employee).
Ben Saitz, Chief Customer Officer at RocketFuel, brings up an important point: “If there’s nothing to discuss, it’s OK to cancel. People, too often, view 1:1s as mandatory, but it’s refreshing when you both acknowledge that things are ok for now, or the time may be better spent other ways… and you can do this as long as you both agree not to take a request to cancel personally.”
3. Managers, keep employees in the loop
This tip is specifically for managers. Since good communication relies upon everybody being in the loop, one of the best things you can do is communicate what’s happening at the company with your employees.
Sound too obvious? As it turns outs, a lot of employees feel like they’re disconnected from decisions made by management. One study shows that up to 25% of employees who quit their jobs did so because they felt like they were kept in the dark. Here are some more troubling findings:
Only 10% of employees surveyed were aware of their company's progress in real time.
4 out of 5 employees surveyed wanted to hear more frequently from their bosses about how their company was doing.
More than 90% of employees surveyed said they would rather hear bad news than no news.
Keeping your employees informed not only improves communication, it’s also a simple way to build trust and cultivate a shared cause or purpose.
4. Employees, get to know your manager
And this one is for the employees out there. It’s pretty simple: get to know your manager. Some people tend to think of their managers as unapproachable, infallible, scary people. But your manager is a person, too. And if they do seem unapproachable, getting to know them is one way to make them open up.
5. Take advantage of tools that improve communication
It’s the 21st century and there are a number of tools that are designed to improve workplace communication. Whether it’s a chat app, an intranet, or something else entirely, taking advantage of the right tool can go a long way towards improving how you communicate with your manager or employees.
This is where a person’s communication style comes into play.
Some people prefer informal written communication (chat discussions, etc.) in the workplace, others prefer direct face-to-face discussions, and still others prefer a combination of the two depending on the situation. A communication tool like a news stream, for instance, provides one additional option for communicating project objectives, expectations, voicing concerns, or giving props.
For more information about the best types of communication tools, check out this article.
6. Ask for and give feedback
The majority of employees (and managers) are unsure about how they’re performing in their role. This can have a tremendous impact on self-confidence, and subsequently how open and direct they are in their communication.
One potential solution to this problem is to regularly ask for (and give) feedback on performance. Did your manager help you out with a problem that’s been eating away at you? Give them a shout out in your next weekly meeting. Did your employees outdo themselves on a project? Tell them so.
The same goes for negative feedback. Is an employee not performing up to expectations? Explain how they might overcome that challenge. Is a manager neglecting the team? They should be open to hearing if that’s the case.
And if this isn’t already a common practice at your workplace, you can always introduce it to your leadership team.
Improving communication between managers and employees is one of the most important steps your company can take towards creating a move cohesive and collaborative workplace. Break down those barriers, clear out the blockages, and start communicating openly and freely!
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