Employee Management

Improving communication skills with your team

Focus on open conversations, encouraging feedback, and how messages are communicated.

Published: February 02, 2015

Think of communication as the foundation to building a solid business. Without it, it's impossible to grow.

As a business gets bigger, you hire more employees. There is more activity. There are more moving parts to coordinate. Without effective communication skills, how can you achieve harmony to meet company goals?

Establish a strong foundation for your business by practicing effective communication skills.

Ensure communication is two-way

Encourage open communication, even if you may not like what you hear. Let employees speak without being interrupted, and consider what they’ve said before you respond. This shows you value employees’ input, helping you build trust with them. It also helps employees feel invested in business decisions and the business’s success.

If employees are honest, you should be too. Sharing bad news is better than hiding or sugarcoating it. If you don't, rumors fly and morale can plummet. If you’ve lost a big client, for example, share it with your staff. When you can, pair bad news with good news, or at least discuss how you plan to deal with the bad. If you adopt a positive attitude in the face of bad news, employees are more likely to do the same.

Solicit feedback from employees

Collecting feedback about the business and your leadership can help improve the team’s and the company’s communication. Consider employee surveys or a suggestion box.

Make it clear that feedback must be constructive. Every mention of a problem should be accompanied by a possible solution. Encourage employees to offer examples of what they would consider ideal office practices.

When employees come to you with an idea, act on it. Tell the employee personally that you are glad he or she raised the idea, even if it can’t be implemented.

Choose the right kind of communication

Most teams comprise different personality types, individual preferences, and generational differences — which can require dramatically different communication styles. For instance, some employees may like face-to-face meetings, while others prefer email.

Certain situations also call for specific communication measures. Employee performance reviews should be conducted in person. When acknowledging receipt of a document, however, email works fine.

Don’t hesitate to constructively criticize or coach an employee about a situation that could have been handled differently. Feedback should be immediate or soon after — not six months later at annual review time.

Focus your communication messages

Don’t overload your listener. Share a manageable amount of information each time you communicate. Keep messages succinct, as they are easier to digest and remember.

Introduce important messages in training and orientation. Reinforce them in staff meetings, signage, and emails. Vary your business meetings between company-wide, departmental, and one-on-one.

Good communication builds a strong, positive team environment that can enhance your company’s bottom line.

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