Quality communication is the foundation of all good relationships. I don’t have to tell you that. But what quality communication entails, specifically in the workplace, may be more elusive. Let’s explore some practical ideas on what this can look like as a deeper dive into TOS: A Private Little War.
To have any hope of a healthy communication culture, your team will need to believe they are able to speak openly without fear of negative ramifications. It’s up to you to make it clear to your employees that they can talk to you about anything. Find ways to explicitly show them how much you value open communication (assuming that you do). I suppose understanding why open community is so important is the real first step. Once you believe in open communication yourself, train all levels of management to value and invite open communication as well. Then be consistent. Hold yourself and your management teams accountable to inviting open communication. Ask for input from your team regularly, be prepared to respond well to both complimentary and critical feedback, and implement change when communication warrants it. If you lead with open communication from the top, both in words and actions, it will spread throughout your entire organization. When the leadership lives out open communication, everyone will.
Part of having a culture of open communication is creating space for open conversation. This can look like opening the floor during a company meeting and encouraging everyone to participate. Remember that some of your employees will be naturally vocal while others will be reserved or hesitant. If they have past experiences where their voice was not respected, or if your workplace has not invited open communication thus far, you will need to mentor your people through the change. Be on the lookout for those that are less likely to speak up and find ways to include them. Setting up regular intervals for check-ins with different areas of your team is a great idea. You could do this through in-person meetings or virtually. Try creating a google form survey that is sent out once a month, giving your people a chance to share what their workplace wins and workplace challenges are, as well as any company-wide thoughts they may have. You hired your people for a reason. You have a wealth of perspectives, experiences, and insight at your disposal to make your workplace and product or service better. Don’t waste them!
You will be amazed at what good can come when everyone is free to share ideas, insights, and constructive feedback.
Open communication can not only benefit vertical workplace relationships but horizontal relationships as well. Creating a culture where teammates share ideas, ask for help, and collaborate will help your people do their best work. It may take some practice for your people to learn how to leave ego or competition at the door in favor of group work. Again, your example will lead the way here. Share what you’re working on and encourage your staff to do the same. This way others can offer advice, resources, or support. You could also create an online forum where employees can post questions and receive input from others. There are dozens of apps and programs now (like Slack, Trello, and more) that can help you accomplish this goal for your workplace culture. Maybe your first move toward open communication could be polling your employees on their experience and opinions on which online forum your company should use!
One last idea for quality communication among your team, that may seem less obvious, is to keep your company culture fun! Host intentional events, parties, and celebrations to help your people celebrate each other and give them shared experiences. These events can be held in person or virtually. Location isn’t the only deciding factor for fun! Planning fun into your company culture will build relationships among people on your team. This creates space for trust, increases the likelihood that they will seek one another out for collaboration, and decreases the odds that they will be sensitive to disagreements. It will also build their connection to the company as a whole. When your employees are invested in the well-being of the company, they’re more likely to speak up to make it better.
Open communication is a must for a thriving organization. Speak about it clearly and speak about it often. Make it a part of your team culture by practicing it yourself, making space for it from others, and encouraging it in all levels of your company. Better communication equals better ideas, better relationships, and better business!
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