Creating a culture of two-way communication

By Gabe Scorgie

6 min read

Creating a culture of two-way communication
Image by Maya Ramadhina

Two-way communication is crucial in the workplace. It builds trust between management and teams, encourages collaboration between coworkers, boosts engagement, and fosters innovation, all of which are essential to a thriving company culture.  

In today’s post, we’ll discuss two-way communication in the workplace, the benefits you can expect, and the barriers you may face along the way. We’ll also provide actionable tips on creating a two-way communication culture by fostering an open environment, implementing feedback, and leveraging technology to empower employees both in and out of the office. 

Understanding two-way communication

We define two-way communication as the process of sharing information between two parties. One faction sends the information, and another receives it and provides feedback. The thing to note here is that the exchange is never one-directional, allowing for deeper discussions around topics and tasks and strengthening the bonds of mutual trust and connection. 

In the workplace, two-way communication is essential. Two-way communication between coworkers helps get projects done faster and more efficiently. Between managers and teams, it encourages feedback, promoting continuous improvement and establishing trust. 

Two-way communication can also be anonymous, as in employee surveys and various other interactive strategies. Though an anonymous survey might seem one-way, it always has a destination and, ideally, results in action that benefits both parties. 

Benefits of two-way communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of employee success, but it needs to flow both ways to be valuable to both parties—and the organization. Building trust, improving collaboration, solving problems, and encouraging the flow of ideas are just some of the benefits of two-way communication. 

Two-way communication ensures both parties have an equal opportunity to listen and be listened to, creating a more engaged workforce and fostering a positive, congenial work environment. Employees who feel heard are more likely to feel valued, be invested in their work, freely share ideas, and collaborate with their colleagues. 

Two-way communication also promotes creative problem-solving and encourages innovative thinking, as employees are empowered to share their perspectives and contribute to solutions. Prioritizing two-way communication and making it part of the company’s DNA helps businesses unlock the full potential of their workforce and reap the benefits of a productive and engaged team.

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Barriers to two-way communication

Effective communication doesn’t always come easily. Many organizations are challenged due to barriers that prevent the flow of information or hinder it in various ways. 

One significant barrier is a lack of trust and openness between communicators, leading to misinterpretation and misunderstandings. For example, suppose leaders don’t share critical information with their teams about significant changes in the company, such as new hires, mergers, or reorganization. In that case, employees may feel cut out of the conversation, as if they have no right to know. In such cases, employees may be hesitant to share their grievances for fear of negative consequences, or they might assume they are unimportant or are next in line to be fired.

Hierarchical structures can also limit the effectiveness of two-way communication as employees find it difficult to express themselves up the chain of command. Employees who feel invisible tend to disengage and may soon seek greener pastures

All of the above mentioned issues can significantly impact productivity, team dynamics, and the success or failure of a business. As such, organizations need to recognize and address communication barriers to maintain a productive and positive work environment.

Strategies for Creating a Culture of Two-Way Communication

Now that we recognize the value of two-way communication in the workplace and understand what might get in the way, how do we successfully implement a communication strategy into company culture? 

Here are a few actionable tips to get you started. 

Foster an open environment

Imagine working in an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions without fear of judgment or repercussion. 

Open and honest communication paves the way for productive dialogue and opens the door to endless possibilities. Encourage people to share their thoughts and ideas and to provide feedback to each other so they can build on those conversations. Doing so helps employees feel that their opinions mean something and will inspire them to continue sharing and connecting with others. 

Openness and honesty should be at the forefront of the company’s values, focusing on building a culture that supports this mindset. The benefits extend beyond avoiding miscommunication, as you’ll enjoy increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and a sense of community and belonging where people can thrive, engage, and contribute together. 

Implement regular feedback sessions

The importance of feedback cannot be overstated, as it promotes continuous improvement, identifies problem areas, and strengthens trust between employees. Best practices for giving and receiving feedback should be established to ensure productive feedback sessions. 

Feedback should be specific, timely, and constructive. Encouraging active listening, empathy, and openness when receiving feedback is vital to avoid pushback, defensiveness, or negativity. 

Creating a feedback culture that welcomes both positive and negative insights will lead to a more productive and engaged team. Leaders and managers should directly encourage employee feedback in meetings and through surveys. Any communication from management or leadership should invite feedback, anonymously or otherwise.

Empower employees

When employees feel empowered, they are more likely to engage in meaningful conversations and contribute to their team’s success. Empowerment means giving employees the tools, resources, and authority to perform their jobs effectively. Companies with remote or hybrid work environments may experience additional communication barriers, so the foundations must be established and reinforced through policy. 

It should be mentioned that two-way communication is just as important for external comms as it is internally. When two-way communication is ingrained in the culture from the inside, it extends to all stakeholder communication, resulting in happier customers and employees who are motivated to do their best work. When employees feel empowered, they are more likely to take initiative in problem-solving, strengthening relationships, and building trust through every interaction. 

Utilize communication technologies

In today’s business environment, businesses must leverage reliable communication tools that support effective two-way interactions with clients, partners, and employees. The right tools help to improve relationships, increase productivity, and build loyalty that sends value to the bottom line. 

Choosing the right communication tools for your organization is essential. The apps and platforms you use should be user-friendly and intuitive and reduce any friction involved in getting work done. 

Most companies use multiple apps and productivity tools to accomplish various tasks. Different departments may use vastly different tools, creating informational silos that impede communication. Modern platforms like Jostle integrate hundreds of apps into a single workspace, reducing the noise and clutter of using multiple apps. Employees can log on once and have everything they need at their fingertips, including access to branded content, training, videos, and integrated communication tools like Slack, Zoom, Asana, and Microsoft. 

Bottom line—technology shouldn’t complicate matters. And while every organization is unique, the right technology improves communication, removing barriers, encouraging engagement, and making it easy to connect to essential people and processes. 

Final thoughts

In conclusion, the role of two-way communication can’t be understated. Prioritize a non-judgmental feedback culture to establish trust and empower employees with the tools they need to thrive. Doing so encourages engagement and helps employees feel heard and valued, strengthening your brand from the inside out. 

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