When things go wrong at work there is often one factor to blame more than any other – communication! Like a silent assassin, a breakdown in communication can cause a lot more damage to your workplace relationships and your business’ productivity than you might think.
We recently conducted an engagement survey with one of our clients. One thing that came to light as clear as day was the fact that communication, or more to the point, a lack of communication, had a significant negative impact on engagement levels. It was obvious that this was definitely a sore point with the team. Their responses indicated that they really craved more information in order to not only feel like they could do their jobs effectively but to also feel involved and engaged within the business. From what we’ve seen and heard across other small businesses, this isn’t a one-off situation.
Ineffective communication can also create unwanted conflict and tension amongst your team – something that can be incredibly toxic and snowball fairly quickly! Misunderstandings are a common by-product of ineffective communication and it goes without saying that when your team aren’t on the same page, it can cause a whole lot of issues for the way your business operates.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much to improve communication within your workplace; a few quick fixes are often all that’s required to do the trick.
Share information. Firstly, make sure everyone in your team knows what everyone else actually does on more than just a high-level, superficial basis. Focus on how each role adds value to your operations and why they’re important to have around. Not knowing what certain team members do at work every day makes it easy for everyone else to work around them, which is when critical information required to do a job effectively, can be missed.
Share the ‘bigger picture’. Let your team in on your business strategy including short and long-term goals and provide regular updates on how the business is tracking against them. Businesses often overlook and underestimate an employee’s need to have a sense of belonging and feel like they’re a part of something bigger than their day-to-day role. This may sound like a whole load of organisational psychological mumbo jumbo, but when you think about it, it makes complete sense for your employees to want to know what they’re working towards and how they fit in to the bigger scheme of things so that their contributions are relevant and effective.
Encourage collaboration. Implementing cross functional meetings are a great way for your team to know what everyone is up to and the key projects they’re working on. It provides not only an opportunity for different departments to gain input and ideas from others but also allows for any issues that might impact other areas of the business to be ironed out sooner rather than later. It also helps by reducing work effort and avoiding duplication. There’s nothing worse than spending time working on something only to find out that you’ve missed critical information or even worse, that someone else has already done it!
Finally, a little team bonding never goes astray. It’s a great way of removing barriers to communication and encouraging productive working relationships amongst your team. The added bonus is that it’s also a bit of fun and can re-motivate and re-engage your team as well.
Don’t let your business become a victim to poor communication. It’s something that can be easily fixed, so address any communication issues you might be having within your workplace and make the commitment to do whatever needs to be done to nip it in the bud. Effective communication can be the make or break of your business’ success.
Janelle McKenzie and Abiramie Sathiamoorthy are the founders of HR firm E&I People Solutions.