Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot: Communication is Key

When working with a team of employees, keeping them happy and feeling valued is integral to running a successful business. You do this through communication. As the owner, you are making or breaking your business based on your communication with your employees.

You may have a fantastic idea of how to lead your business to the next level, but if you can’t (or won’t) communicate that message in a clear, effective way to your employees, then it will never happen.

Messages

Whether you want to communicate an idea, a new policy, a problem or boost morale, you need to consider the best way to do it—via phone, email, flyer, or in-person. Make sure that you take into account the other person’s feelings and that the message is delivered in a respectful way. Have a purpose to the communication. Please do not send an email that says “hi.”

Some questions to ask yourself are:
• Does this message align with my business goals?
• Is this the best way to communicate this information?
• Will my employees understand it?
• Will it motivate my employees to act on the information?

Other tips:
• Choose one overall theme for a single communication.
• Have a clear call to action.
• Use persuasive language.
• Keep it simple.

Daily Communication

Most people like feedback. We have been groomed to receive it. When we were babies, we cried and got a response from our parents. In school, we received grades letting us know how much we were learning. In business, we get annual reviews to let us know how well we are performing. However, most people like to get more frequent feedback than just once a year.

If things are going well, it’s important to let employees know.

It’s easy to get into the daily grind of doing your job and counting on your employees to do their jobs, but an occasional “atta boy” goes a long way to improving morale and keeping employees motivated.

On the flip side, you don’t want to let problem areas go until an annual review because you don’t like conflict. Constructive criticism doesn’t have to involve conflict. If given in a clear, respectful way, it can be a learning and growth experience.

Listening

Listening to your employees is essential to good communication. As much as we hate going to meetings, they can be an important tool to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Be sure to have an agenda for your meetings so that they are a good use of everyone’s time. But, allow time for feedback from your employees.
You may also choose to institute a suggestion box or some other way for employees to comment on processes and procedures. Brilliant ideas don’t always come from the top.

Making a Mess of Things

We’re all human and we all make mistakes. When an employee messes up, they most likely feel bad enough about it. Making them feel worse doesn’t improve the situation. Instead, look at what events led up to the mistake. Ask your employee what ideas they might have to prevent it from happening again. By asking their opinion and giving them the opportunity to come up with a solution, or even just discussing the solution with you, you will leave them with their dignity. The solution may even improve processes across the company.

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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