Leadership, Managing people, Mentor, Vicki Crowe

My start-up team has quickly grown. How do we make sure we still communicate well?

Oliver Milman /

I’ve started up and suddenly found myself with a team of six people. How can I best keep these people informed about the business?

 

I don’t want to hold endless meetings with them. But I want to foster good communication among staff.

 

It’s a great question.

 

Communication is the only shared skill that everyone must undertake in the workplace and it’s critical to get right. It also helps to establish your company’s culture.

 

However, not everyone will communicate the same way.

 

Firstly you need to become aware of your own communication style. Is it chatty, overly detailed, assertive, too friendly or straight to the point? Secondly, it’s important that you start listening to how others like to communicate around your office.

 

Some people will have a chat at any opportunity and these are usually the people who enjoy longer meetings and talking about the family or relationships. Others just want to get on with it and will become demotivated and frustrated by long meetings and idle chatter.

 

I’m going to bring that old cliché in here but it’s true: one size, or in this case ‘style’, does not fit all.

 

The key to fostering good workplace communication is to have a one-on-one chat with each employee. What you are looking to establish is their preferred communication style. You can begin the conversation with something like, “it’s important for me to foster good communication and for you to feel free to have a say.”

 

Questions could include:

  • How much detail do you need from me in order to perform your tasks?
  • How often would you like to meet to be updated on the business?
  • Do you have a preference for regular meetings or a weekly WIP?
  • How do you think we should communicate and share ideas about the company?

From this, you will be able to determine whether you have a more structured meeting once a week and who will need daily attention to keep them on track.

 

Finally, it’s interesting to look at the research conducted by the University of Sydney of hundreds of employees, at all levels. The researchers identified the top 15 ‘drivers for excellence’ all of which needed to be present in a workplace of excellence. The research found that Australian managers were weaker on the soft (interpersonal) skills of management than the technical skills.

 

The three top drivers that constitute workplace excellence are:

 

1. The quality of working relationships – people relating to each other as friends, colleagues and co-workers. Supporting each other, and helping to get the job done.

 

2. Workplace leadership – how the immediate manager presents himself or herself. Their focus is on leadership and energy, not management and administration.

 

3. Having a say – participating in decisions that affect the day-to-day business of the workplace.

 

As you can see from the research, the three top drivers all require excellent workplace communication – it’s worth putting in the effort to get it right.

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