How does your workplace communication measure up?
Communication at work is more challenging than ever with so many employers operating with a remote or hybrid workforce. Doing it well remains essential for getting work done, collaboration, trust, and a healthy workplace culture.
Here are 11 strategies to put into practice that will improve the effectiveness of workplace communication:
1. Choose the suitable form of communication: While there are multiple types of communication, it’s critical to know which type will work best for your objectives and needs.
2. Communicate face-to-face when possible: Whether working remotely or onsite, face-to-face communication is most effective. Opt to meet in person when available or via video to meet virtually.
3. Improve collaboration skills: Open, candid communication is the starting point for collaboration. Learn how and when to disagree and work through differences to achieve a mutually desirable outcome.
4. Be aware of body language and tone of voice: Nonverbal cues — such as crossing your arms or looking away — can send the wrong message to your audience. Pay attention to your body language and tone. After all, communication isn’t just what you say. How you say it is equally important.
5. Stick to the facts: Effective workplace communication conveys facts rather than interpretations, which enables people to find solutions more quickly.
6. Speak to the right person: Identify key stakeholders and choose their preferred communication methods to get your message across.
7. Remain professional: Getting too personal reduces credibility. In the work environment, it’s best to be friendly but remain professional. Building emotional control will help you keep your work and personal life separate.
8. Avoid controversial topics: Controversies build conflict and miscommunication in the workplace. When thinking about communicating, it’s important to remember to avoid controversial topics. Keeping communication neutral helps prevent personal conflict, which saves your company time and resources.
9. Address misunderstandings quickly: Misunderstandings are bound to happen from time to time. When they do, it’s essential to resolve the conflict quickly. Timely and transparent communication can minimize confusion and prevent misunderstandings from happening in the first place.
10. Provide positive feedback: Positive feedback is one of the most effective workplace communication strategies. People are more likely to feel pride and encouragement, leading to better engagement and motivation.
11. Be an active listener: People feel valued and better connected when they are heard. There’s more to learn when you’re listening and not talking. Ask questions, listen to understand, seek clarification, and take action based on what you heard.
There are many ways to measure the effectiveness of workplace communication. Here are some of the most common approaches:
- Set objectives: Define goals with clear KPIs to evaluate performance.
- Administer employee engagement surveys: Use a research-backed, confidential survey to gauge sentiment and assess communication proactively.
- Check-in with employees: Ask them if they feel well-informed and listen for ways to improve communication.
- Evaluate usage: Evaluate how many employees access communication tools like the company intranet.
- Track employee retention and turnover rates: Dissatisfied employees are more likely to leave. During exit interviews, determine the reasons why.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.
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