Good Workplace Communication Goes Two Ways

An effective communications strategy keeps employees connected with their work, the organization, and a bigger purpose. One-way communication is simple, but is it effective? It’s easy for leadership to send out important, company wide messages. Two-way communication is more of a challenge, yet without it, leaders are missing valuable insight from employees.

Good work communication

These four quick wins will help enable two-way communication and strengthen connection within your organization:

1. Make two-way communication possible. Pulse surveys are an effective way to get timely, honest feedback so you know if messages have landed – and landed correctly.

2. Enable two-way communication in virtual meetings. Establish norms so employees know it’s OK to raise their hands when they’re unclear or want to offer ideas. 

3. Connect using a variety of media. Find ways to encourage interactions that form relationships beyond just technical tasks.

4. Make time for informal conversations. Leave time at the start of each meeting to check-in with people. Allow them to catch up and share what’s going on.

It’s likely we’ll continue to see more dispersed teams and remote workers moving forward. So, what are some big-picture ideas to consider in the near term? Now’s the time to establish that connection strategy.

Maintain informal opportunities for connection. Make interactions and virtual meetings personal. When people understand they can do both the informal and formal with technology, it will help.

Focus on role clarity. Role clarity is very important, both in meetings and on tasks. Be intentional and be clear about who is doing what and when.

Establish – or re-establish – a culture of appreciation. People like recognition for what they’ve achieved. Different people like appreciation in different ways. Still, it doesn’t hurt to say, “Hey, Bob, I thought that was a great report that you did. We’re going to use that moving forward,” and say it in front of the entire meeting or group.

Synthesize up. This is all about taking information from the lowest level of the organization and filtering that up through the team and department level to senior leadership. Make sure people feel good about it and that they’re comfortable. Ensure the synthesized information reflects what’s actually going on at the lowest level. Create new feedback loops to help synthesizers to improve.

Capture employee feedback. An employee engagement survey gives employees the chance to voice their opinions and state what they’re observing on the frontlines. It clues-in senior leaders to what’s really happening in the organization and guidance for mission-critical decisions.

Companies without a strong connection strategy will see the employee experience suffer. Eventually, that leads to weakened performance and reduced profits. 

Tom Devane is vice president of workplace consulting for Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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